What U.S. Colleges and Universities Have the Worst Retention Rates?
As higher education becomes more competitive in the United States, colleges and universities are under more pressure to keep their students enrolled and on track to graduate. But some institutions are struggling more than others when it comes to retention rates. A retention rate is the percentage of students who return to an institution the following year after their freshman year.
According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average retention rate for four-year institutions in the United States is around 77 percent. However, there are several colleges and universities that fall far below this average.
One of the worst-performing institutions on this metric is Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), which has a retention rate of just 14 percent. SUNO is a historically black university located in Louisiana and is one of the youngest institutions in the Southern University system. Many of its students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, which can make it difficult for them to persist through college.
Another institution with a low retention rate is Harris-Stowe State University, located in St. Louis, Missouri. Harris-Stowe has a retention rate of just 24 percent, making it one of the lowest in the country. Like SUNO, Harris-Stowe serves a largely underprivileged student population, many of whom are first-generation college students.
Other colleges with notably low retention rates include Oklahoma Panhandle State University (25 percent), University of Maryland Eastern Shore (30 percent), and South Carolina State University (33 percent).
Many factors can contribute to a low retention rate, including financial difficulties, lack of academic support, and poor student engagement. Institutional factors like low funding and inadequate infrastructure can also play a role. Furthermore, many of these institutions serve students from marginalized communities who face additional roadblocks to success.
While low retention rates can be concerning, it’s important to note that they do not necessarily indicate the quality of education provided by these institutions. Moreover, these institutions may be working hard to address retention issues and provide opportunities for their students.
Ultimately, the causes behind low retention rates are complex and multifaceted. Institutions with low retention rates often need significant support to improve their resources and programs in order to help their students succeed. By addressing these challenges, these colleges and universities can become better equipped to help all students thrive.