The percentage of U.S. college freshmen who return to the same school for their second year is declining, according to an ACT national survey.
Sixty-six percent of first-year college students returned to the same institution for their second year of college in the 20072008 academic year, the lowest percentage since 1989. This figure is down from 68 percent in 20062007 and 69 percent in 20052006.
In five of the eight types of postsecondary institutions surveyed, retention is at its lowest level since data gathering began in 1983. They are PhD public, PhD private, MA private, BA/BS private, and two-year private institutions.
The exception to the current downward trend is two-year public colleges. Fifty-four percent of students at two-year public colleges returned for their second year in 20072008, up from 51 percent the previous year.
In fact, the current retention rate for two-year public institutions is at an all-time high.
Retention rates vary widely among different types of schools. They remain significantly higher at four-year schools (71 percent) than at two-year schools (54 percent), as has been the case historically. In addition, four-year private colleges continue to slightly outpace public schools (private, 73 percent; public, 71 percent), although the gap between the two is narrowing. Nevertheless, nearly all four-year institutional categories have experienced declines in retention over the past two years or more.
The data in the report were gathered in ACTs annual survey of U.S. postsecondary institutions, which was completed by more than 2,500 two-year and baccalaureate colleges and universities across the country.