The Magnetic Effect of College: What’s the Retention Rate?


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As you’ve perused college websites, guides or brochures, you have stumbled upon more statistics and numbers than you can count. One piece of advice I always give to students is:

Don’t just accept a statistic for what it is. Care about the story that the statistic tells.

Anyone can have a good statistic and can make it work in their favor: your responsibility as a prospective college student is to apply discernment about what the number means for you. I’m here to introduce you to the Retention Rate: what it is and why it should be important to you when evaluating colleges.


What is it?

The retention rate, as the title implies, is the “magnet” statistic of sorts. It tells you what percentage of students stay at that college for their 2nd year after their 1st year. Thus, a high retention rate means that many students (a large percentage of the former freshman class) stayed on and returned for their sophomore year at that same college. Conversely, a low retention rate means that a smaller percentage of students stayed on at the college for additional years.


Why is it important?

Three reasons.

  • It means that students are happy there: they’re getting what they wanted in a college. Would you stay at a place that didn’t meet your expectations or was terribly unpleasant culturally or experientially? Of course not! A high retention rate means satisfied students.
  • It means that students are successful. The college supports students who may be having trouble academically. Low retention rates means high drop-out rates.
  • It’s a sign of prestige. Students want to stay at this place because they know that there is a short and long term value to being there.


What about Grove City?

Grove City College has a 94% freshman to sophomore retention rate. Look how this compares and the recognition this has received HERE. Coupled with our 97% job and graduate school placement rate, one can conclude that our students are not only supported during their time at the College, but also professionally prepared for post-graduation success.

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