Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 27, 2017

Sophomore Retention Rates Decrease; Committee to Improve First-Year Experience

Evan Harris

In the words of singer Anna Kendrick, “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone,” and that’s exactly what many students said in May after transferring to different schools or dropping out indefinitely, causing a dip in the retention rate.

For the current academic year, the retention rate among returning sophomores dropped to 64% after maintaining a status quo of about 68% for the past five years. There are a variety of speculations as to why many students chose not to return to Manchester this year.

Elizabeth Bushnell, assistant vice president of institutional effectiveness, shared what she believes are major factors that caused the 4% drop. “We all try hard to figure out the real answer,” she said. “Some common responses we usually get include some type of financial situation, personal and even tough home situations, or if we don’t have a particular field or program that a student is interested in.”

Bushnell also discussed a disadvantage of the retention drop. “The school also loses revenue and tuition when a lot of students do not return,” she said.

Manchester University President David McFadden also shared his thoughts on retention drop. “I’m very bothered,” he said. “We want every student to leave here with a degree, and we failed them if they cannot stay.”

McFadden continued. “Fewer students mean less students in majors, as well as smaller class sizes,” McFadden said. “But, we also lose vitality on campus.”

The school has recently kicked off an initiative to combat the retention drop. “One thing has to do with improving the overall first-year experience, so students would want to stay,” McFadden said. “We want to go back to where we were [retention-wise], and slowly improve over time.”

There has been a committee created that is focused on the first-year experience.

“We want to make improvements on welcome week activities, as well as how orientations go,” Bushnell said. “We also want to create more opportunities for students to connect with other students and teachers.