By Heather O’Leary, Principal Analyst
In a previous Wake-Up Call, “It’s Time to Get Real About Retention,” we discussed the development of the 2013 Eduventures Retention Ratings. Now, with the release of the 2015 Eduventures Retention Ratings, we are taking this research a step further. Beyond evaluating colleges and universities on their first year retention rates, we are identifying the “biggest movers,” the colleges that have made the largest leaps in either direction since the 2013 ratings. As a reminder, the rating categories are based on the following:
Many will be surprised by this list of big movers. For example, you won’t find an Ivy League or even a Research I university among the colleges and universities that have moved in a positive direction. The schools that have made significant gains face greater odds when it comes to retention success than Ivy League schools, which have resources and student body compositions that contribute to their success. While we recognize that it is easier to make gains in retention when you start as an underdog, we believe that no matter who you are, there is value in taking a closer look at the practices of these leading schools.
It should also be noted that the biggest movers demonstrate that it is possible to transform your retention in either direction within just a few years. Losing focus on retention can result in a downward trend that can be challenging to recover from. Alternatively, a campus-wide focus on and prioritization of the areas that can positively impact retention can yield improvements.
Our winners include fifteen colleges and universities that have made at least a three-step improvement in their retention rating from 2013.
The Biggest Movers: Colleges with Improved Retention Ratings
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 2013 ratings are based on 2011 IPEDS data; 2015 ratings are based on 2013 IPEDS data, the most recent available.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have identified eleven colleges and universities that have fallen in the ratings by at least three steps:
The Biggest Movers: Colleges with Lower Retention Ratings
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To see how you are performing in 2015 and to learn more about our retention ratings, please visit our 2015 Retention Ratings. For more information about retention practices, please ask about our Retention Case Studies of both public and private universities.
As part of our ongoing retention research, we will be studying the practices of these colleges and universities. We will also be covering the growing market of retention technology and service solutions.
For more information on this topic, please contact the author of this week’s Wake-Up Call, Eduventures Principal Analyst Heather O’Leary.