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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Freshmen retention rates on rise at UA

Jared Piñon

New data indicates that the freshmen retention rate at the UA has increased in comparison to previous years.

The UA welcomed 6,881 freshmen in fall 2013. According to recent data from the Arizona Board of Regents, 81.9 percent of those freshmen returned as sophomores, compared to the freshmen class in 2012, which had a retention rate was 81.5 percent. The six-year graduation rate at the UA is approximately 61.5 percent, according to Jeff Orgera, senior vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.

According to Orgera, there are several reasons students choose not to return to the UA after their freshman year. Orgera said the biggest reason students don’t return for their sophomore year is that the UA was simply not the right school for them.

The other reasons, according to Orgera, are financial and personal circumstances, such as family issues, employment or illnesses.Natalie Huerta, an undeclared freshman, said freshman year is a bit stressful because of failing classes, difficult suite mates and rushing Greek Life.

 Universities across the nation are working to find ways to increase the freshman retention rate. The California State University Monterey Bay campus mimicked the executive-style coaching that is offered to business executives for its students. Over the course of four years, the retention rate increased by 13 percent due to this individualized approach to engage students.

The UA has similar programs to guide freshmen and other students through their new university lives via Academic and Success Achievement peer mentoring, Wildcat Academy, the New Start summer program and Arizona Mentors, in which a student is mentored by a member of university faculty and staff.

Carol Funckes, the associate director of the Disability Resource Center, said she found that most students enrolled in the program return each year until graduation. The DRC provides advocacy for its students’ unique needs while also advising them on how to advocate for themselves.

The Think Tank, a free tutoring service offered on campus since 2009, has also correlated with a noticeable increase in freshmen retention since it started offering its services, according to Orgera.

Orgera said the increase isn’t entirely due to Think Tank services, but the vast offerings and student assistance provided by Think Tank has contributed to overall freshmen success and retention.

Kaydi Williams, an undeclared freshman, said freshman year can be overwhelming because of classes and financial burdens.

“It’s hard, and it’s a lot of money,” Williams said, “[but] they set us up here.”


Follow Anna Ludlum on Twitter @DailyWildcat

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