New survey data from ACT Inc. show that public two-year colleges are improving in their ability to retain freshman students, but four-year private colleges are slipping.
Overall, about 67 percent of first-year full-time students return to the same institution for their second year of college, according to the 2010 survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide. That’s down slightly from 68 percent in 2005.
At two-year public colleges, the retention number rose from 53 percent in 2005 to 56 percent, the highest rate for those schools in 27 years of the ACT’s annual survey. At four-year private colleges, the retention rate was 72 percent, down from 75 percent in 2005. The rate at four-year public colleges was 74 percent, compared to 73 percent in 2005.
Wes Habley, a principal associate at ACT, cited economics for some of the changes: Community colleges are less expensive, he noted, and two-year schools offer career programs that are responsive to the marketplace.
A version of this article appeared in the February 02, 2011 edition of Education Week as Two-Year Colleges Improve Freshman-Retention Rate