How Important are Retention Rates When Deciding Which College to Attend

Choosing a college is often a daunting process that requires a great deal of research. In many cases location is a prime motivator in the decision as some students want to attend a campus nearby where they live. If attending an online school, the user-friendliness of the technology is a consideration.  Prestige is also another huge factor in the college choosing process. Some schools offer programs that allow a greater depth or specialized learning in a particular field. Despite the limitless ways of financing an education, price may also come into play when choosing. One factor that often gets overlooked though, is the retention rate of the school.

A college education is practically a necessity in today’s work force. This requirement in the labor pool is forcing many to join the ranks of college academia. Many of these students are first year learners with a long road of discovery ahead of them.

What Retention Rates Say About a College

The retention of a college speaks volumes on the school itself. On the surface, this is a testament of the campus’ commitment to student welfare. Many colleges, especially for-profit and specialized schools, are often perceived as diploma farms where their primary goal is to simply get as many students to enroll as possible without regard for the graduation rate or whether the students are actually learning anything. With this focus, resources are directed towards recruitment rather than retention, with the funds already guaranteed through previous student loans drawn from existing students.

For-Profit Vs. Non-Profit

The retention rate of not-for-profit schools such as state and public universities are much higher than that of for-profit universities. Where profit campuses may strive to push learning through a compacted curriculum in promise of fewer classroom hours, thus forcing students out the door as quickly as they came in, not-for-profits try to keep students on campus as long as possible. This can be a direct correlation to the retention rate of the schools themselves. This isn’t rocket science. A school that retains students produces more graduates.

What this means for students is that the retention rates are definitely a factor to be considered, and in many cases a deciding factor when choosing a school. Even if a student is given a full ride via student loans, this money will need to be paid back.

No matter what your student demographic is or what level of education you are pursuing, when choosing a new school in furthering your education some time should be taken to do the research on a campus’ retention rates, even for online institutions. This information could prove itself to be invaluable. The school you are considering may not be the best fit for your needs based on this. The campus and staff’s ability and desire to ensure that their students graduate reflects deeply on the graduation rate of their students. Not choosing wisely could result in either that student’s achievement or failure of their goals.

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