Freshman Year Matters

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Freshman Year Matters

There are more options for higher education than ever. Once students are at school, however, drop out rates are horrendous. One of the largest predictors of persistence to graduation is a smooth transition into college. Here’s why freshman year matters.

Only 51.6% of students at Bachelor degree only offering institutions graduate in 4 years.[1]

While this number varies across institution type.

Persistence to degree in 4 years
Highly selective: 82.4%
Selective: 63.3%
Traditional: 36.8%
Liberal: 35.6%
Open: 28%
All types: 51.6%

4/5 students that drop out drop out before sophomore year.
One of the main predictors is first year success:


Most ACT-Tested High School Graduates aren’t ready for college.
2011 ACT-Tested High School Graduates Ready for College[4]
(by %)
English: 66%
Reading: 52%
Mathematics: 45%
Science: 30%

4 Benchmarks are needed for across the board college readiness:
2011 ACT-Tested High School Graduates by Number of Benchmarks:[4]
(benchmarks are for the above subjects)
No benchmarks met: 28%
1 Benchmark Met: 15%
2 Benchmarks Met: 17%
3 Benchmarks Met: 15%
All 4 Benchmarks Met: 25%

All benchmarks met equals
50% chance of obtaining a B or higher
And 75% chance of obtaining a C in:
English Comp
Introductory Social Science
College Algebra

Finances and family history shouldn’t be a barrier to collegiate success.
The number of high school graduates is shrinking.[5]
But the number who are ethnically diverse is growing.
A growing number of first generation college students from socioeconomic backgrounds not prepared to pay for college.

From 2012-2019:
White college students will increase 5%
Hispanic college students will increase 27%

7/10 families eliminated colleges from consideration due to finances.
An average family is on track to cover only 30% of college costs.

A growing non-traditional student base need new forms of support.
25% of undergraduates are over age 25.[4]
38% of undergraduates are enrolled part time

College isn’t a smooth transition for everyone

Learning Communities: Foster connections for students who feel no connection to their place of study.

Structured Learning Pathway: Enables students without guidance or outside knowledge to choose the right path.

Reward Faculty who Care: For students having trouble fitting in, it just takes one faculty member reaching out.

Specialized Advising: It can be hard for advisers from drastically different backgrounds to advise students.

Don’t just build a learning environment, build a great one.



    1. (The difference between average first year retention rates across all colleges and 4 year retention rates.)

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