By KELLY EVANS
Over the course of 20 years, Mary Washington’s retention rate has been maintained at a steady rate; however a decline during the 2013 school year has caused this to be a topic of interest.
According to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, In 2001 Mary Washington hit its highest retention rate at 88.6 percent. The lowest rate was 78 percent in 2013.
During President Paino’s State-of-the University address, the topic of increasing Mary Washington’s retention rate had been discussed. With the retention rate rising over the past three years, following the drop to its lowest point, President Paino continues to push towards creating an environment at UMW that allows students to thrive by removing arbitrary barriers to degree attainment.
Over the past 20 years Mary Washington has managed its retention rate, varying in the 80 percent range. After dropping to its lowest percent in 2013, the school has bounced back to maintain a rate of 81.8 percent in 2014, 82.5 percent in 2015, and 83.7 percent in 2016.
The 5 percent decrease since 2001 has brought up the question of what causes students to transfer from Mary Washington.
The city of Fredericksburg provides a variety of activities for college students; however, it is difficult for freshman to explore with not being able to have their cars first year.
According to freshman Jordan Kinder, a downside of UMW is “ how socially boring it can get at times over the weekend.”
Another contribution toward raising the schools retention rate would be “better food” said Kinder.
While the lack of social activities and quality of food can be considered a downfall, most students are content with the academics Mary Washington provides. While the idea of transferring has crossed Kinders mind, he says “How small the class sizes are here is one of the thing keeping me.”
Freshman Logan Bolesta said “ I didn’t have problems with the academics, all of my professors were very good and helpful.”
While social factors such as lack of greek life and a football team have contributed to Logans consideration of transferring, the cost of UMW also contributes.
“I would say the biggest reason was the price, even with a $8,000 scholarship I was still paying $15,000 per semester because I live out of state,” said Bolesta on his consideration of leaving Mary Washington after freshman year.
“I think it’s fair to say that students identify four major reasons why they do not return after their first year: health, finances, academic preparation, and a desire to transfer,” said Tim O’Donnell, Associate Provost Academic Engagement Student Success.
“The goals is for Mary Washington to have a retention rate that ranges in the upper 80’s through 90’s percent” said O’Donnell.