Report: Freshman retention at all-time high

The freshman retention rate between 2010 and 2011 was the highest in Institute history last year, according to a study published recently by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

Retention rate, defined as the rates at which students continue their studies at Tech from one year to the next or graduate, were historically high for a number of cohorts, or entering groups of students, according to statistics in the study.

Second-year students were retained at a rate of 95 percent in 2010, the highest ever recorded by the Institute. Retention of third- and fifth-year students in 2010 was also historically high, at 90 percent and 84 percent, respectively.

Retention rates have risen each year with few exceptions. In 1996, only 85 percent of freshman students continued their education at Tech, a full ten percentage points lower than in 2010.

Certain predictors for retention were established by analyzing the correlation between participation in various programs and retention in the five most recent cohorts.

According to the report, participants in the Freshman Experience were significantly more likely to remain at Tech for their second year, as were students who enrolled in GT 1000.

Factors such as ethnicity and college of entrance had less of an effect on second-year retention rates, according to the report. However, these factors were found to be significant in the retention of students beyond their second year.

Females were consistently more likely to be retained than their male counterparts in every cohort after the second year.

The report also analyzed the fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-year graduation rates of each entering class from 2007 and earlier. The entering class of 2007 graduated 41 percent of its members after four years, an all-time high, seven percentage points greater than the 2006 entering class. The 2006 class graduated 72 percent of its members, equal to the high established by the 2004 and 2005 entering classes.

According to the report, students in the Ivan Allen College were more likely to graduate in four years than their peers. African-American students graduated a lower rates than other racial groups, with 29.6 percent of the 2007 entering class graduating in four years compared to 40.9 percent across the entire entering class.

Hispanic four-, five- and six-year graduation rates were the lowest observed in recent years at 30.4, 74.0 and 70.6 percent respectively. This is compared to the cohort averages of 40.9, 72.3 and 78.9 percent.

These statistics reflect efforts  made through various administrative initiatives, such as GT 1000, peer tutoring and academic coaching, to retain talented students until their graduation.