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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Life Factors Affect UMB’s Retention Rates

Life Factors Affect UMBs Retention Rates

One of the most pressing issues that universities nationwide must continuously deal with is the retention and transfer rate. At UMass Boston, like any other college campus, a fair amount of freshman fail to show up for their second year, or even their second semester. Studies have shown that a good portion of college students stops their education only shortly after beginning. Students who continue their education may wonder what factors play into an undergraduate’s frame of mind once they decide college is no longer the life for them. For many it is not a wish to cease furthering their education, but a lack of financial assistance or availability. Others discover that college may not have been what they had imagined, and yet still others find the course load too difficult.Fortunately, not all students who do not return in the fall have completely given up on their hopes for a college degree. Many transfer to other universities that better suit their academic wishes, or economic bracket. Senior Michael Hogan transferred to UMass Boston after completing his associate’s degree at a nearby community college. Hogan said he chose the harbor campus because “of all schools looked at, UMass Boston was the most financially feasible for the level of education I wanted to receive.”The UMass Boston website elaborates on the statistics of retaining students. Over the last 10 years, the retention rates for full time freshman have remained relatively steady around 70 percent. For part-time freshman, however, the range has been as low as 40.5 percent, and as high as 56.1 percent, depending on the year. For students transferring to UMass Boston with 29 or less credits, giving them freshman status, retention rates have been considerably less stable. For full-time transfer freshman, rates have ranged from the low 60 percentile, to just above 70 percent. Part-time transfer freshman rates show in the low-to-mid 50 percentile.According to the National Center for Education Studies and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System surveys, the percentage of students beginning at a university and continuing on to graduate at that same school, differ quite significantly. Though UMass Boston remains on the low end with 35 percent, colleges that are considered to be roughly equal to UMass Boston, such as the University of Louisville, the University of Memphis and Cleveland State University, are all within a single percent of UMass Boston’s rating, with CSU being the lowest at 30 percent, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County on the far other end with 58 percent.Lisa Johnson, assistant vice chancellor of management enrollment, speaks of the strategic planning process initiated by Chancellor Michael Collins that addresses the matter of retention rates. The new plan has a subcommittee specifically focusing on enrollment and financial aid. Johnson explained that, “as a university we plan to move forward with initiative that will help us to retain and graduate the students that we bring into this community.”The Massachusetts average for retention rates is currently 83.5 percent, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems information center, by far one of the highest in the nation. This is understandable so, considering the amount of universities located in Boston alone. Johnson notes that the “university recognizes that success and persistence of our students is essential to building this university community.” But why then, are UMass Boston’s rates significantly less than the rest of Massachusetts universities?One safe assumption is that with prestigious universities such as Harvard and MIT, the statewide average is bound to be somewhat slighted. Many might also believe that because our college is a commuter one, students are more easily inclined to remove themselves from the community, or rather lack there of.It is undeniable that universities that provide on-campus housing create a sort of atmosphere that encompasses students to feel more at home. Undergraduates living alongside other undergraduates produce an environment where students feel they are an integral part of the student life surrounding them. Regardless of housing options, each and every university must deal with retention rates to some degree. The reasons for students failing to return range greatly; from a lack of interest or dedication, financial issues, or even family or personal issues, unexpected events often occur and a persons plans might have to be altered.A large number of students who do not return assure themselves they are only taking a year off, or they will return when they can. Unfortunately, however, life often gets in the way. The false hope of a promotion at an otherwise dead-end job, a marriage or a child all are factors that one cannot simply ignore. Some are lucky enough to enter through the doors again and pick up their education where they left off, while others may have experiences they never would have had they stayed at school.