COLLEGE COUNSELOR: Retention Rates Critical

If there were but one factor I could review to determine the effectiveness of a college it would certainly not be the “US News and World Report Rankings,” or the 25 and 75 percentile SAT scores of the incoming class, or even the number of Rhode or Fulbright scholars it has graduated over the last 10 years. Instead, I’d rather see the school’s retention rate: The number of freshmen students who return for their sophomore year. Experience tells us that freshman year in college is an enormous adjustment. Those schools who can guide their students successfully through freshman year are gems, because a lot of students fail to successfully transition to college. … Retention rates are particularly important when evaluating unfamiliar schools. One example is New College of Florida, a small, public honors university. The “2012 Fiske Guide to Colleges” noted New College (NCF) was much smaller than that of a ‘typical liberal arts college’, its enrollment is only 825 students, and rated it a “best buy.” Additionally, the article noted that NCF has produced a Rhodes Scholar and 36 Fulbright Scholars since 2001. Yet, when you pull up New College’s retention information you find it is 86%, not horrible, but not particularly good, especially for a school composed of 825 honors students; worse, the “transfer out rate” is 27% of the class.

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