Retention rates highest in school history

USF reported its highest ever fall-to-spring retention rates for both freshmen and the entire University this year, as of the first day of classes.

With only 196 expected non-returning freshmen, the rate of retention is anticipated to approach 95.24 percent, according to information provided by Glen Besterfield, associate dean of undergraduate studies. This number is down from 197 last year and 258 in 2007.

“It seems that enrollment is healthy — it’s as we planned,” said Provost Ralph Wilcox in a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday.

Credit hours have also increased by 2.5 percent for the entire University.

In addition to an increase in total enrollment retention rates, other freshman statistics have improved. Probation numbers have decreased significantly within the past two years, dropping from 14.22 percent in fall 2006 to an estimated 11.58 percent for fall 2008.

Wilcox also said USF has been enrolling higher-caliber freshmen, and the first-time-in-college students this year have the best entrance statistics in school history.

“This is a partnership between admissions, advising, orientation, and getting students connected and engaged with USF,” Besterfield said in an e-mail to provosts and others.

The key point to wait for remains statistics concerning freshman-to-sophomore retention rates, Wilcox said.

He also said one goal for the University was not necessarily to increase enrollment, but to maintain and manage it.

“Anytime a metropolitan university can manage its enrollment within plus or minus 2 percent, the university is doing well,” Wilcox said.

Students at universities such as Florida State and the University of Florida, he said, often travel from home to attend school. Students in a large city sometimes go away to attend college, then “come home” to USF from other schools.