Preliminary retention rate numbers presented at the Board of Regents Friday meeting appear to show indicators and trends that could be used to predict if students are likely to be retained by the university.

While correlation does not equal causation, the numbers do appear to establish a trend among certain populations. 

The retention rate reported to the state is defined as students who begin as freshmen at EKU, are taking classes as of Oct. 15 and are still taking classes Oct. 15 of the following year. EKU takes preliminary ‘snapshots’ of the retention rate throughout the year as indicators of the number of freshman students who have left the university. 

One such ‘snapshot’ was taken Jan. 21 and that data was presented to the Board of Regents during the Feb. 22 meeting. 

This data was broken down into several categories that each represent indicators of the potential for students to remain at the university. 

Overall retention from fall 2018 to spring 2019 is 81.5 percent. This retention rate includes all first year students who are seeking a baccalaureate degree, an associates degree or a certificate. 

Of the overall 81.5 percent retention rate, 184 of the Selective Merit Aid/Reduced Tuition students out of 211 returned to EKU and nine of the 13 international students returned for the spring semester. 

The college in which a student is located also influences retention. The College of Education has the highest retention rate at 93 percent. The College of Justice and Safety has the lowest retention as of Jan. 21, with a rate of 83.1 percent.

Students who are seeking associate degrees in general studies and baccalaureate degrees in general studies have retention rates of 51.5 percent and 50 percent respectively. In contrast, students who are classified as exploratory, students who have not declared a major, have a retention rate of 83.3 percent. 

Another possible indicator for student retention is the number of developmental needs a student has upon admission. Developmental needs are classified as deficiencies in math, reading and/or English. Students with a developmental need in zero of these areas have a retention rate of 84.5 percent. Students with a developmental need in three areas have a retention rate of 59.5 percent. Students with developmental needs are placed in corequisite courses that are intended to provide extra support and help individuals succeed. 

The amount of financial aid students receive can also serve as an indicator for an individual’s potential to return to the university. Students who receive the Excellence merit scholarship have a retention rate of 100 percent. Students who receive the Presidential merit scholarship have a retention rate of 84.5 percent. In comparison, students who receive no merit scholarships have a retention rate of 73.5 percent. 

In a like manner, students who are part of subpopulations such as EKU dual credit, the Honors Program, student athletes, Rodney Gross Diversity Scholarship recipients and diversity scholarship recipients all have a retention rate higher than 88 percent. 

While these categories can not be used to precisely predict a student’s likelihood of returning to EKU, these numbers show these overall trends from fall 2018 to spring 2019. Full data will be collected Oct. 15. The Oct. 15 data will provide conclusive retention rates for the 2018 to 2019 academic year. 

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