The University of Chicago, along with Columbia University, has the highest first year retention rate among ranked U.S. universities and liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News.
A total of 1,354 schools were included in the “Freshmen Retention Rate” college ranking. The retention rate of the University of Chicago far exceeds the average for most colleges. For students who entered in the fall between 2010 and 2013, the average freshmen retention rate at the University of Chicago was 99 percent.
The ACT Institutional Data Questionnaire, an annual online survey of information collected from two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions, found that an average of 64.2 percent of full-time, first-time students who started school in fall of 2013 returned in the fall of 2014 to public institutions and 70.2 percent returned to private universities and colleges.
The reasons for not returning to college, according to U.S. News, include family problems, loneliness, academic struggles, and a lack of money. For the University of Chicago, transfer does not appear to be one of the reasons. Zero percent of students transferred to other universities or colleges for cohort 2008, according to data in the University Registrar’s Graduation Rate Survey 2014–15.
Graduation rate for students at the University, however, is lower than the freshmen retention rate by more than 10 percent. The four-year graduation rate for students who started in fall 2008 is 87% at the University of Chicago, compared to 90% at Columbia University. In “Highest 4-Year Graduation Rates” of U.S. News, the University of Chicago ranks sixth.
As recently as 2001, the University’s graduation and retention rate were a subject of concern, according to a University of Chicago Magazine article titled “News you can abuse.” “Two other schools consistently stand out as bad performers in the graduation and retention and value-added categories: MIT and the University of Chicago,” the article said. Chicago ranked 13th overall, but only 28th in graduation and retention rankings.
Since the 1990s, however, the first-year retention rate in the College has been rising steadily.
“The College works closely with students through the Core curriculum starting from their first year, providing advising and mentoring resources to keep them academically engaged. The College and College Admissions have worked to attract a diverse and talented set of students who deeply value the College’s intellectual community and are highly motivated to succeed here,” Marielle Sainvilus, Director of Public Affairs of University of Chicago Communications, said.