Retention rates still low

Fewer courses will worsen the Universities’ retention rate problem.

Despite being on a slow but steady incline over the past decade, the University of MinnesotaâÄôs freshman retention rate still ranks near the bottom of Big Ten schools, averaging 87.2 percent from 2005-08 . The University has made an effort to improve retention rates recently, but there are still major concerns. A 2001 report done by the University called âÄúImproving Our Graduation RatesâÄù discussed a group of students they called âÄúdisenchantedâÄù who drop out due to factors like limited course availability or inadequate advising. It says, âÄúWhen they go, they are gone for good and search for a different University.âÄù It is noteworthy that 56 percent of all dropouts (mostly freshman and sophomores) had enrolled in another institution, it seems that many students who drop out here are âÄúdisenchantedâÄù with the University in particular. While the University has introduced measures designed to increase retention rates, such as Welcome Week and free tuition for each credit above 13 (which encourages freshmen to stay on track to graduate), even more work needs to be done, especially in this financial climate. Political science professor Robert Duvall says the UniversityâÄôs budgetary issues are forcing departments to make âÄúpainful decision[s] to offer fewer courses.âÄù If budget concerns force a decrease in course availability, the University will likely increase its problem with âÄúdisenchantedâÄù dropouts. Retention rates are part of the UniversityâÄôs goal of becoming a top-three public research university and graduating 60 percent of the 2008 cohort in four years. The University has to address its retention rate problem, even if its budget brings lower course availability.