Student retention rates: Graduating in six years?

Colin Rivera, Staff Writer

 

Many students who attend university know someone who has dropped out, and they will likely continue to meet more students who will do so the further they go in their college career.

In the 2017 Saint Martin’s University Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data feedback report in recent years’ graduation rates have been as low as 48 percent. 

Other data shown in the report and on the website for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows the graduation rates of students with the 2010 cohort, after six years, to be 55 percent. 

Additionally, this rate is 16 percent lower than the median of all 26 groups surveyed. Of the 45 percent that dropped out of that cohort, 33 percent transferred to different institutions.

Many factors can influence whether or not a student will drop out of college. Although many drop out or change schools due to personal reasons, there were some responses that occurred more frequently. Financial strain was perhaps the biggest concern expressed by students, as the price of attending Saint Martin’s each year is sizable. 

The average price of tuition, even after financial aid is applied, typically comes out to around $20,000, and may not be a fixed rate. It is possible for a student to lose their scholarship due to a fall in grade point average, and once that happens, paying more than twice what they were before is usually out of the question. 

Another concern shared by some students is a disconnect between the way the material of a class is taught, and how it is applied. Some believe they are being taught the material in an ineffective way by the professor, leaving them with two options. The first option being to drop the class and possibly change majors if the class was a requirement; or second, choose to learn the material at another school entirely. 

These problems are not easy to solve, and it can be argued that any loss of scholarship or lack of knowledge can be placed entirely on the student-because if they wanted to pass the class, they should have risen to the challenge. However, the claims are refuted when a student can transfer to another school and get the same degree for cheaper and without the stress they may have at Saint Martin’s.

Sheila Steiner, Director of Assessment and Accreditation, gathers the statistics used in the reports. She had a few insights on why the statistics look the way they do. Steiner says that the reason that there is such a drop in student retention in the first year could have to do with our acceptance rate of 98 percent. 

The hope, she says, is that in accepting so many students, we can take in some that other colleges would have passed up on. Some of these students may not be prepared for college life when they arrive, but with the resources available, such as the Center for Student Success, they can quickly become college ready. 

Though these problems are still present, there has been an upswing in graduation rates to 62 percent of students from the class that began in 2012. However, this is taking into account that these students are receiving bachelor degrees and are graduating within six years of starting. The number of graduates that completed their degree in four years from the 2012 cohort is just under 50 percent. This shows that graduating within a four-year period may not be feasible for a majority of students, and it will likely take five or six instead.

Recently, the graduation rate for Saint Martin’s University was updated, and is now shown to be 75 percent, up from the 48 reported several weeks prior. However, that updated statistic only includes transfer and non-traditional students. 

 

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