IR Data Snapshot (January 2018): Student Retention
As part of ongoing efforts to empower the UP campus community with information that facilitates everyone’s work towards fulfilling the university’s mission, the Office of Institutional Research would like to share important data snapshots periodically throughout the school year.
Q: What is the UP student retention rate?
A: It depends on how you are defining “retention rate”!
This is a very common question received by the IR Office. Usually, when we discuss “retention rate”, it is understood to be the percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduates who first enrolled at UP in a given fall semester and returned to UP the following fall semester. In line with federal standards for reporting retention rate, this is how the official 1st-2nd year retention rate is calculated for UP. We can also calculate retention rates of students returning the following fall semester, otherwise known as a 1st-3rd year retention rate. Retention rate could also be calculated for other student populations, such as graduate students.
Q: So where can I see the latest retention rate data?
A: The IR Office website hosts a Tableau dashboard with retention rate data going back more than 15 years.
The dashboard is powered by Tableau software, which means the data is available all the time, updated regularly and directly from Banner, and is interactive. Go to the IR website [www.up.edu/ir], navigate to “Institutional Data”, then “Tableau Dashboards”, and then “Retention”. The Tableau Dashboards page has other handy links on how to get started using the dashboards as well as links to other dashboards presenting data on Enrollment and Graduation.
Fig. 1. Screenshot of the Retention Dashboard showing Retention Rates for Five Incoming Cohorts (Incoming in Fall of 2011 – 2015)
Q: Where can I find out how UP compares with other institutions?
A: The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center offers extensive national reports on retention that help put UP’s data in context.
The most recent Persistence and Retention Report [https://nscresearchcenter.org/snapshotreport28-first-year-persistence-and-retention/] shows that nationally among four-year private institutions, the retention rate is 75% for students who first entered in fall 2015.
However, if you have specific comparison institutions in mind, you can use IPEDS to pull that data. The IR Office website has FAQs and tutorials explaining how to access IPEDS data.
Q: What can I do with this information?
A: Institutions often use retention rate as one of many indicators of how well the institution is supporting student success.
Examining retention rate data can help institutions understand an overall picture of how well students are supported in their pathways towards graduation. Delving into data from other institutions can further our understanding of how well UP compares with peer institutions. Additionally, reviewing retention rates can inform discussions on improving and creating student success programs.
References: Snapshot report: First-year persistence and retention. (2017). National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Available at