Latest UT Enrollment Report Reveals Record Retention Rates

Latest Enrollment report shows promising improvements for graduation ratesIn 2012’s State of the University address, President Powers announced an initiative to bump up graduation rates to an unprecedented 70 percent by 2017. One year later, UT is already seeing progress.

The Preliminary Enrollment Analysis for Fall 2013, which was released this week, shows the highest one-year retention rate in the University’s history at 93.6 percent, a small increase from fall 2012’s 93.2 percent. Retention is the first crucial step toward improving four-year graduation rates and academic student success.

The report also breaks down enrollment and graduation from the past academic year. Statistical changes regarding race, ethnicity, gender, transfer students, first-time freshmen, and graduate and law school enrollment are all highlighted. The final report will be released in October.

“When you’re able to keep a student registered and on task, you have a chance to be successful,” says David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management. “If they leave, it is unlikely they will return.”

According to the analysis, the current freshman class’ preliminary average SAT score is 17 points higher than that of the freshmen in 2012. This year also saw an increase in the diversity of students, including more Longhorns identifying themselves as Hispanic, Asian-only, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander-only, and foreign.

Not all areas have seen improvement, however. Graduation rates—the focus of Powers’ initiative—experienced a slight decrease to 52 percent, down .2 percent from the fall 2009 and fall 2008 cohorts. But Laude isn’t discouraged.

“There’s been a culture on this campus of taking more than four years to graduate,” Laude says. “Students have developed a five-year plan for themselves. With this incoming class, the focus was shifted entirely. These freshmen are really engaged with the concept from orientation on.”

While five- and six-year plans might be ingrained in upperclassmen, UT’s 2016 and 2017 classes are already utilizing incentive programs to help them get their degrees in four years. This fall’s retention rates show marked progress toward achieving that 70-percent goal.

As for the freshmen who are making these numbers happen: “Congratulations on being so great,” Laude says. “This is an indication that UT is providing an education that people want to migrate towards. One of the things that has made my job easier is that I’ve been able to get such a great cohort of students.”

Photo courtesy Thomas Duesing via Flickr Creative Commons.


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