Sept. 8, 2010
UI sees jump in retention as well as record enrollment
University of Iowa officials received a double dose of positive enrollment news this semester. Not only did the number of incoming freshmen set a record this fall but the retention rate at Iowa is the highest it’s been in at least a decade.
The UI Registrar’s Office reports that 86.28 percent of first-time freshmen in the fall 2009 class returned to campus this fall, compared to an average first-to-second-year retention rate of about 83.35 percent over the previous 10 years. That figure -- 86.28 percent -- is just shy of the 87 percent retention rate set as a five-year goal in July 2009 by the Committee on Design and Implementation of the UI’s Early Intervention Implementation Committee [View the committee’s report at http://www.uiowa.edu/~success/documents/EarlyInterventionPhaseTwoFinalReport_001.pdf]
"This is tremendously positive news and speaks to the commitment of our entire campus to helping our students feel welcome, connected and optimistic about a successful academic career at the University of Iowa," UI President Sally Mason said.
University admissions officials have also reported great success in student recruitment, attracting 4,557 first-year students this semester, or 494 more than last year and 268 more than the previous record-breaking incoming class in 2006. That puts the university well on track for meeting -- and likely exceeding -- its goal of boosting enrollment by 500 students within five years. This brings the UI's overall student enrollment to 30,825 students, up from 30,328 students last fall.
Iowa’s new freshman class is also one of the most diverse in its history. Some 12.64 percent of the incoming class identify as minorities, compared with 11.2 percent of last year’s incoming class.
The UI also saw a spike in the enrollment of international undergraduate students this year, from 379 last year to 555 this year, or a 46.4 percent increase. Additionally, 299 new graduate and professional international students this fall brings the total number of international students at the UI to 2,825, or nearly 9.16 percent of the total UI student body.
"The academic distinction of our student body continues to rise,” said Beth Ingram, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of the University College. “Whatever our numbers, we will maintain our focus on providing the services and support that students need to succeed."
Just as with this year’s record enrollment, the retention rate didn’t increase by chance.
Since fall 2009 the university’s Early Intervention Committee -- made up of administrators, staff, faculty and students -- has been actively identifying and reaching out to students at risk of failing to meet certain enrollment requirements or of dropping out because of academic, financial or personal challenges.
In one case, Larry Lockwood, assistant provost, UI Enrollment Management, said a freshman was on the verge of quitting the UI because of a conflict with a dorm mate and her struggle to find an outlet for her energy and interests. Lockwood told her about her rights as a resident hall tenant, connected her with housing staff and pointed her to a campus organization where she could pursue her interests. A day before her father was scheduled to pick her up and take her home, she opted to stay at Iowa.
"It’s often about getting them connected," Lockwood said. "Once they’re connected, they usually stay."
And staying -- not just for one year, but through to graduation -- is the ultimate goal. Currently at the UI, the six-year graduation rate is about 68.5 percent. Lockwood is confident the UI can reach 72 percent in a few years, bringing it in line with other Big Ten universities that have comparable admissions policies.
The university already has a number of programs and services in place to help make this happen, ranging from academic advising counselors and Advantage Iowa scholarships to first-year seminars and living-learning communities. The Registrar’s Office also conducts exit surveys of students who leave Iowa before graduation to find out what might have convinced them to stay.
To view the complete UI enrollment statistics online, which will be updated the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 8, visit:
STORY SOURCE: University News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500