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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

They are the 23 percent

They+are+the+23+percent

More than 20 percent of students who start at the UA don’t return after their first year, according to Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Jeff Orgera.

The UA freshman retention rate for the 2010-2011 academic year was 77.3 percent, according to Orgera. He said this number varies slightly from year to year but remains roughly the same.

There are many reasons why students do not return to the UA after their freshman year, he said. These reasons may include financial, social, locational and academic problems. He said he and the Office of Student Affairs determined the main reason students do not return after their freshman year is because of financial instability for out-of-state students.

Kellen Merrigan, a former UA student, who is now an undeclared sophomore at the University of Colorado, Boulder, left for just that reason. He said it was an easy decision for him to move back to his hometown, and pay a fraction of the cost to go to an in-state school.

“The education didn’t seem worth the price,” said Merrigan, who left immediately after his freshman year.

Another reason why students leave, Orgera said, is because they don’t fit in socially or do not like the city of Tucson.

Former UA student Kasey Taylor said that is why she left. Taylor is now a marketing sophomore at Arizona State University, and transferred there last year after her first semester.

“I didn’t like Tucson,” she said, adding she thought the party scene in Tucson was too much for her to handle.

Taylor said it was too hard for her to focus because every day was the same: Go to sleep, wake up, go to class, party and wake up and do it all over again. Taylor said that, although she enjoyed her time at UA and met some interesting and diverse people, she needed something different.

Orgera said that about 5.6 percent of freshman each year get academically disqualified from the university. The rate of academic disqualification has dropped about half a percent since the late 90s, he said. He said that academic requirements vary from college to college, but in general it means a student could not retain a grade point average of 2.0 or above.

Matt Lewis, an undeclared junior at Scottsdale Community College and former UA student, left the UA after his freshman year because he was academically disqualified. He said he could not maintain the minimum 2.0 GPA and was kicked out. Lewis was told he could return after getting a certain GPA and amount of credits at another school, he said. Orgera said that the GPA required to return to the UA must be a 3.0 over a minimum of 24 units at another institution.

Orgera said that although only an average of eight out of 10 students return to the UA every year, he and the Office of Student Affairs try to make the community aware of programs they have implemented to make the retention rate higher.

Such programs include Think Tank tutoring services, peer mentoring, an early alert email system that sends an email to students letting them know they are not doing well in a class and an upper classmen mentoring system who take on small groups of freshmen to orient them with the way the university works.

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