Aug 05, 2020

Retention rates above average

Illustration by Michael Uribes / The Collegian

A new study conducted by the Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning (IRAP) found that the higher the grade point average during students’ first semester, the higher the odds to graduate from the institution.

The study reported that out of every 100 students that enrolled at Fresno State, around 82 actually finish their degree. The rest never make it to graduation because they don’t meet the academic standards of the university or they simply decide to drop out.

Costs, scheduling cause students to leave

The study focused on first-time freshmen and new transfer students at Fresno State in order to figure out how many students leave the campus and why.

It stated that students who leave Fresno State do so either on academic dismissal for failing to meet the university’s academic standards or because of personal reasons like economic or personal hardships.

“I had to go back to Fresno City College because they have the same classes only they are cheaper,” Hector Garcia, a philosophy sophomore, said.

Others left because of a desire to be close to home.

Students also mentioned class scheduling as a reason for leaving.

“I had to ask work to work around my school schedule because the classes I need were only available at certain times,” Jorge Santacruz, an undeclared freshman, said.

Study suggests ways to increase retention rates

Fresno State’s retention rate is above the national average, but below the desired 90 percent.

Maxine McDonald, administrator for student services and member of the group that conducted the study said, “You can always do better.”

“The retention oversight study measures a student’s process to graduation,” McDonald said. “Graduation is what it is all about; however, if you don’t graduate, it is still a learning experience.”

Along with the study, there were also a series of recommendations to increase the retention rate. The group overseeing the research made suggestions such as being more selective in their admissions process.

“The recommendations were made as part of a data-driven research. Our admission standards are set by the state and are not unlikely to change,” McDonald said. “We have great students… we want to see what we can do to help them stay.”

The recommendations include appointing a group to focus on freshmen and transfer students and monitor their experience on campus. This should develop aggressive strategies to help the students who face academic difficulties, McDonald said.

McDonald said the school is on the right track since it already has a mandatory “Dog Days” attendance for freshmen and mandatory advising road maps. A student must visit his counselor to make sure of their progress and the direction they are taking.

There was no clear trend as to which students are more likely to drop out as far as gender, age, major or race according to McDonald. However, the study did find that African-American, Asian and Hispanic students were more likely to graduate than white students when they had a high first-semester and high school GPA.

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