Do Acceptance, Retention, and Graduation Rates Matter?

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What are the factors for enrolling in the right university or college? There may be a pool of trustworthy colleges and universities that seem to be great prospects, but you need to choose wisely and select the one that meets the general criteria—and is the best fit for you!

Typically, a college means taking into account your personal preferences like location, offered programs, environment, and diversity. Many look into the school’s acceptance, retention, and graduation rates, the three elements that you must first understand to know whether or not they matter to you and your choices as a new student.

What is Acceptance Rate?

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Acceptance Rate is the percentage of the students accepted in a university or school. To determine this number, you have, on the one hand, the number of applicants and on the other, the number of accepted students. If 100 students applied at a college, and 50 of them got admitted, the college has an acceptance rate of 50%.

What does this information tell you?

While others perceive the acceptance rate as a vital consideration for selecting a college, it does not entirely represent the school’s quality of education. Although a school with lower acceptance may be ranked higher than schools with a higher acceptance rate, some strategies could have been at play to produce the “ideal” numbers. Some schools may have implemented a no-application-fee campaign to attract more students to take their admission examinations. As a result, they have numerous hopefuls but retain or admit only a few. This, in turn, results in a lower acceptance rate.

What is Retention Rate?

Retention Rate is the percentage of the school’s new students who go on to attending the same school in the succeeding year or years. It points specifically to students who spend a full year in a university and accelerate to the sophomore level.

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Some foresee this as an indication of how the students enjoyed their first year of education in a specific school. National colleges have an estimated 77% retention rate on average, which means 1 out of 4 students may not have matched well with their schools and decided to either transfer or do not proceed to college at all.

Retention rates are generally used to measure student satisfaction. They are compared with consumer behavior. People will choose the products and services that are satisfied with creating customer loyalty. The same theory applies to colleges. A student will retain and stay in a school that he or she is satisfied and happy with.

However, there are identifiable reasons why first-year students continue or discontinue their college education. The lack of financial capacity, for example, forces students to put their studies on hold and contribute to the college’s low retention rate.

What is Graduation Rate?

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Graduation Rate is the percentage of students who complete their undergraduate degrees from the same school in four straight years. The numbers usually do not include transferees and those who left the college for a while for some reason and enrolled back to complete their program.

Internal and external factors influence the graduation rate of schools. Some suggest that the school’s environment significantly impacts a student’s decision to graduate on time or not. Remember, however, that you also have to surround yourself with determined peers who share your vision of earning your degree on time!

Colleges that claim to have high student selection standards are perceived to have high graduation rates. They admit top academic performers who are capable of—and have the capacity to—complete their undergraduate program right on schedule.


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Whatever deciding factors you and your family use as a qualification for choosing where to go to college, the most realistic way is to take your time doing qualitative research. Acceptance, graduation, and retention rates may be important components that say something about your university, but don’t limit your decision to data-based information. Dig deeper and ask the right questions!