One of the issues I have mentioned before is student retention. Student retention in colleges is described as the percentage of students that start as freshman that return for sophomore year. Most of the very competitive colleges have student retention rates of 90% or better and often, greater than 95%. The retention rate is a short hand way to see how satisfied students are with the college they are attending. As such it is a good indicator or whether you might be happy at such a college if you are admitted.
The ACT company has a new report out that discusses retention rates at all US colleges. Overall, only 66% of students that began as freshman returned for their sophomore year in 2007-2008. In other words, one out of every three students transfers or drop outs after their freshman year.
While there are many legitimate reasons to transfer to a new college, there are potential disadvantages of doing so. Moving to a new college may mean that you lose credits that you have already taken. Furthermore, the classes you have taken may not fit into the sequence of courses at your new college so you may need to retake a course. Socially, transfer students often do not integrate into a student population as well as those who experienced freshman year together. Finally, at some colleges, financial aid is better for students starting as freshman than for transfer students.
In looking at which colleges to apply to, and attend, keep the retention rate of each college in the back of your mind. This will not be the only consideration in choosing the best college for your needs, but it can be an imporant one.