Record-Breaking Retention Rate
November 17, 2015
by Jere W. Morehead, President
As the University of Georgia prepares to accept the first members of the Class of 2020, we remain confident this institution is doing all it can to not only recruit the best and brightest students but also to retain them and facilitate their successful degree completion.
Our freshman retention rate is the highest in the University’s history. Of the first-year students who began their academic careers at UGA last year, 95.2% returned for their second year this fall. The University’s 85.3% six-year graduation rate is also at an all-time high. Both of these numbers are well above the national averages and those of our peer institutions.
The University has introduced a number of initiatives in recent years that contribute to students’ success. First Year Odyssey seminars place all first-year students in small classes led by tenured or tenure-track professors to build community and introduce students to academic life at UGA. Hiring initiatives have created additional courses in critical instruction areas and have reduced class sizes to increase student-professor interaction. Advising support has been enhanced through additional staff and new technology.
The Class of 2020 will be the first to have the new experiential learning requirement as a part of their curriculum. In addition to enriching students’ academic experience and helping them prepare for the workforce and graduate school, this type of hands-on learning outside of the traditional classroom has been shown to promote graduation and student success.
Scholarship programs to increase financial assistance to students from low-income families also have made a positive difference in students’ ability to complete their degree. In the past year, UGA distributed $3.5 million in need-based scholarships, representing a 15% increase over a two-year period. Increasing this type of support remains one of the key priorities for our campaign for the University of Georgia.
It is important that the University of Georgia continually strive to improve its retention and graduation rates because an undergraduate education not only changes the lives of individuals, each additional UGA degree has a positive impact on the communities in Georgia and throughout the nation.