What does the college retention rate mean? Why should I consider it when looking at different universities?

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Marguerite Dennis, Higher Education Consultant

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A college’s retention rate is the percentage of students who graduate within a specified amount of time, usually between four to six years. It can reflect how well the school supports its students’ academic advancement.

Students who leave school for a semester or year either will never graduate or will take longer than four years, costing both time and money. But beyond the retention rate, the first question to ask is the percentage of students who enter the second year. This is the more important question for you to ask at this stage of your college investigation. The answer will tell you how well students are advised and counseled during the first year of college.

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