The Most Important Statistic Of All

ImageClients are often very concerned about the percent of students admitted to X College.  We get it.  This statistic offers freeze-dried information about selectivity, and a student’s relative odds of admission.

We always point out the significance of two other statistics: freshman and six year retention rates. In these two statistics, we can read in a number of qualities of the college or university:  How well selected is the accepted group for the program?  How much support does the university provide? Is there enough financial aid for student needing aid? How effective are the programs for minority and disadvantaged students?

Huge variation exists in retention statistics.  As one would imagine, the most highly selective institutions have the highest retention rates: Dartmouth see 97% of freshmen return and 96% graduate after six years, and at Cal Tech 96% of freshman return and 92% graduate after 6 six years. Compare these numbers to a large state university like University of Indiana at Bloomington where 88% return for the sophomore year and 75% graduate in six years, and then look at California State University at Bakersfield with 69% freshmen returning and a 41% graduating after six years. University of Alaska at Anchorage sees 73% of freshmen return but only 26% graduating in six years. (All of these statistics were provided on MyCCA college admission software, used by our practice.)

If college is expensive (and it is), dropping out is even more expensive.

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