Photo by Wei Liao

This year, Tech’s first-year retention rate reached a record high number of 97 percent.

The statistic has steadily increased in the last two decades; in 1996, first-year retention was roughly 85 percent, and in 2005, first-year retention was about 92 percent. This year’s figure again puts Tech above the national average for public four-year universities, which is roughly 80 percent.

“It takes an entire campus community to achieve these high retention and graduation rates,” said Steven Girardot, associate vice provost for Undergraduate Education, in a statement. “I’m proud of the efforts of our faculty and administrators, who work very hard to support student success from the first day a student arrives on campus until the day they graduate.”

Tech’s rates of graduation by a freshman class’s fifth and sixth years are also above national average values. The averages are 55 and 59 percent for graduations by fifth and sixth year (according to the National Center for Education Statistics), respectively, whereas for Tech they are 80 and 85 percent. These have also been shown to increase over a large span of time. In 1996, the fifth and sixth year rates for graduation percentage were 59 and 68 percent, respectively. In 2005, the numbers were 72 and 79 percent for fifth and sixth year graduations, respectively.

“It’s important for every student we admit to have the resources to be successful,” said Debbie Pearson, Tech’s retention and graduation coordinator, in a statement.

According to Pearson, Tech prioritizes and places emphasis on degree completion, and successes arise from the fact that a large percentage of Tech’s programs have a long lifespan.

Pearson additionally works to ensure that Tech is working towards the Complete College Georgia (CCG) plan. The system, which was introduced by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in August of 2011, was intended to increase the level of attainment of high quality education. The plan mainly focuses on five major areas of concern: college readiness, improving access & completion for underserved students, shortening time to degree, restructuring instructional delivery and transforming remediation.

According to the CCG’s website, many University System of Georgia (USG) institutions have taken steps towards these goals.