What is a good retention rate for a college to have and what does this really mean? Is there a difference between retention rate and graduation rate?


Vielka Cecilia Hoy, Founder/Director at Vielka Hoy Consulting, Teacher, and Parent

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The retention rate is the percentage of students who stay after they have started (regardless of graduating); the graduation rate is the percentage of students who complete their degree. Retention rates are important (it is one of the items I look at when creating college lists with students) because they may indicate whether students are generally satisfied with their college experiences. Because some schools are struggling to graduate students in a timely manner, looking at the retention rate may also show how many students recognized those issues early (e.g. courses not available; financial aid package not what they imagined) and decided to leave. Ideally, you would want a retention rate to be closer to 100% with anything above 85% or so to be a good sign.

Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T, Author. Speaker. CEO.

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Retention rate refers to the percentage of a college or university’s full-time students who return to the same college or university the next year. In most cases, the retention rate refers to the percentage of freshmen who return to the institution for their sophomore year.

Graduation rate refers to the percentage of a college or university’s full-time freshmen students who graduate from the institution usually within a four, five or six year time period.

On a scale of 0 - 100, the higher the retention rate percentage, the better. If the institution you are interested in attending doesn’t have a favorable retention rate, find out from the admissions department why this is so.

I hope this helps.

Amy Yvette Garrou, College admissions expert (US and international colleges)

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Here are some websites which describe graduation rates.

US Dept of Education's National Center for Education Statistics This US government site gives the average 6-year graduation rates for public, private, and for-profit colleges.

US News This chart shows that it's not always the marquee campuses that have the highest 4-year graduation rates. Looking at both 4-year and 6-year graduation rates is helpful. Often, at larger universities, students may take longer than 4 years because they have the options of switching between very different departments, such as from arts & sciences to engineering. Majors such as engineering, nursing, architecture, and even undergraduate business have very specific pre-requisites and are not majors that can be supported by much smaller liberal-arts colleges. It would be very interesting to ask admissions offices why their students graduate in 4 years or 6 years. Taking 6 years to graduate doesn't necessarily mean anything negative about that university.

http://www.collegeresults.org/ At this site, you can find graduation rates for numerous US colleges and universities. You can also compare them.

I hope these are helpful!

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