College shows growth in freshman retention

SAN MARCOS — Cal State San Marcos has increased its one-year continuation rate for first-time freshmen to a new high of 77.3 percent. Measuring the re-enrollment proportion of the 2009 freshmen cohort, more than 1,200 students persisted beyond the first year of college, an increase of nearly seven percent over the past two years.
“Nothing is more important than the success of our students,” said CSUSM Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Emily Fourmy Cutrer. “This increase further validates the continued collaborative efforts of faculty and staff to ensure that our students are on track to achieve their education goals.”
The 77.3 percent retention rate represents a nearly three-point increase from the previous year with the college showing a steady increase in first-year student retention over the last four academic years. This year, most notably, the biggest spike was seen among African American students, who as a group experienced a 19-point jump in student reenrollment compared to the same group’s prior entry cohort.
The success rate of first-time freshmen can often be a precursor to the retention and graduate rates of a university. Statistically, freshmen who enroll for a second year of study immediately after finishing their first are far more likely to complete their baccalaureate degrees than students who do not immediately reenroll. Within the California State University system, the largest single-year drop in reenrollment occurs between a student’s first and second year at college.
Since 2007, Cal State San Marcos has invested considerable energy assessing and improving its first-year programming. The most visible manifestation has been the university’s participation in a national program — Foundations of Excellence in the First Year. As part of the program, the college conducted an extensive self-study of its freshmen entry students. The data collected, along with national research, reaffirmed the correlation among first-year practices, retention to the second year and graduation.

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