The above graph shows median college student attrition rates broken down for the first two years of the college experience, based on findings from Noel-Levitz’s 2011 Mid-Year Retention Indicators Report.
These benchmarks enable campuses to evaluate institutional performance—how do your student attrition rates compare?
The findings show that the greatest losses of students occur during the first year, yet the findings also show that significant losses of students also occur during the second year, so it is important to pay attention to both years. For example, at the median, 14 percent of students at two-year public institutions who were enrolled on the official census day of the first term of their second year did not return for the second term of their second year. In addition, a median rate of 16 to 17 percent of second-year students at four-year institutions who were enrolled on the official census day of the first term of their second year did not return for their junior year.
The report breaks down the findings even further by examining differences between four-year institutions that are more selective with those that are less selective, documenting that institutions with higher selectivity see higher rates of persistence and retention, while institutions with lower selectivity see lower rates. The highest median attrition rate reported during the first two years of the college experience was a median attrition of 36 percent reported by four-year private institutions with low selectivity between the official census day of term one of the first year and the official census day of term two of the first year.
For more details, please see the full report.