CSU ranked the highest among its national peers in first-year
student retention rates, according to a recent report issued by the
Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
Retention rates measure the percentage of students who stay at
the institution from one semester to the next. Out of 3,685
incoming freshmen at CSU in 2001, approximately 626 students
“Over the last six or eight years retention rates of freshmen,
measured to the fall of their sophomore year, have held steady
around 82 percent,” said Keith Ickes. associate vice president for
Administrative Services and director of the Office of Budgets and
According to the CCHE report, in 2001 the retention of
first-year students was 83.1 percent. This number falls within the
benchmark prediction created through an analysis of the
The University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of
Northern Colorado fell below their predicted benchmarks in 2001.
UNC had the lowest retention rate, weighing in at 68.2 percent.
CU-Boulder fell below its benchmark by almost 1 percent, although
its rate was 0.2 percent higher than CSU’s.
“Differences in retention rates are based on how institutions
define themselves,” said Paul Thayer, director of the Center for
Advising and Student Achievement. “UNC has a different mission.
There is only a small difference between CSU and CU retention
because the schools have similar missions.”
Ernie Chavez, chairperson for the Department of Psychology, has
another opinion about retention differences.
“CSU and CU students have higher index scores. They were better
academic high school students and more prepared for the academic
performance demanded of a university,” Chavez said.
Thayer said more than 80 percent of the students who leave CSU
before graduation leave during the first and second years. Reasons
why students leave are varied.
“Personal and financial reasons are the two most common
responses to why a student leaves,” Thayer said. “Seventy percent
of students who leave, leave in good academic standing.”
“Frequently we most expect finance reasons, feeling lonely and
disconnected from the school or grades,” Chavez said. “If the
person doesn’t deal with the pressures of college it can affect
their grades and cause them to alienate their support system.”
Carla McSheehy, a freshman pre-veterinary medicine major, said
homesickness is a reason why students would leave college during or
after their first year.
“I know people who left CSU to go to different schools closer to
home,” McSheehy said. “Some got kicked out for alcohol and other
Ickes pointed out one of these other reasons.
“If a student changes their major and it’s not offered here
they’ll leave,” Ickes said. “Sometimes it’s just too much freedom.
It all varies by the students’ experience and what they want to
Blake Palazzari, a sophomore English major, said budget cuts
might be a reason why students would want to leave CSU.
“Budget cuts are preventing students from getting into the right
classes,” Palazzari said.
Although increasing class sizes have caused some students
trouble, Thayer said there is no data indicating this as a reason
for students leaving.
“I think the biggest issue is to what extent a student connects
to the institution and campus with academics, faculty, major,
adviser and socially,” Thayer said. “Involvement is an important
issue so large classes need to make us worry.”