STUDENT RETENTION AT DePAUL
Student Retention: Definitions and Context
At DePaul, we recognize that there may be no better measure of our mission than the degree attainment of our diverse student body. Increasing student retention and degree completion is a shared effort that crosses departments and divisions.
Broadly speaking, retention refers to the ability of an institution to successfully graduate the students who initially enroll. Two rates currently serve as the primary measures of comparison when discussing retention. The retention rate reported in government statistics reflects how many first-time, full-time freshmen who start at an institution in fall return for a second year. The six-year graduation rate, another federal government statistic, shows how many first-time full-time freshmen who begin seeking a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution complete their degree at that same institution in six years.
DePaul's first-year retention rates are consistently high, and the reported six-year graduation rate exceeds the graduation rate that would be statistically predicted given the academic and demographic profile of our student population. Nevertheless, we are invested in finding innovative ways—like the 4 Ps—to improve student outcomes.
Retention Trends at DePaul
The following trends reflect data as of 2012. Click on the following links for more detailed information.
2012 Retention and Graduation Data
- The data presented in the report below represent outcomes for first-time, full-time degree seeking students. Institutional Research and Market Analytics produces yearly reports on overall retention and graduation rates, as well as outcomes for DePaul students filtered by academic performance, background characteristics and college. See the IRMA Fact File for additional student data.
- DePaul's retention and graduation rates in 2012 were at 85 percent first-year retention, 56 percent four-year graduation and 68 percent six-year graduation. All three metrics have shown gradual gains over the past fifteen years even as the size of the entering freshman class has doubled. First-year retention is consistently high, over 80 percent for the past fifteen years. The four-year and six-year rates match all-time highs and the recent improvement in four-year rates is particularly noteworthy.
- Of those students who graduate, 75 percent do so in four years or less. On average, the time to graduate is 4.25 years; in other words, it takes about one additional quarter beyond four years for a DePaul student to graduate.
Comparison to Peers
- Over the past decade, DePaul's six-year graduation rates have consistently been close to or above the median rates of 30 private universities that constitute the most statistically comparable institutions to DePaul (based upon a wide variety of institutional characteristics in enrollment, financial and academic profiles). This is true among Caucasian, African-American, Asian and Hispanic/Latino students and for both male and female students in each racial/ethnic group. Though there are clear disparities in the actual rates between and among these groups, DePaul's comparative performance is consistently around the median for these statistical peer schools, regardless of the student demographic.
Comparison to National Rates
- Across the nation, 57 percent of students seeking a bachelor's degree will complete it in six years. Completion rates are much lower for students of color, Pell-eligible and first-generation students, those over age 25, those needing remediation and students who begin postsecondary education as part-time students.
- Average time to graduation for a bachelor's degree is 4.7 years for full-time students and 5.6 years for part-time students across the nation. However, the fact that government data only count full-time, first-time freshmen who complete their education at the institution where they started means that 40 percent of total students in higher education are not counted at all in federal figures. There are growing calls for inclusive data collection on all students: part-time, low-income, transfer and remedial students so that policy decisions are based on realistic contexts. Many individual states (including Illinois) have signaled that they will collect and publish inclusive retention and completion data on all students.
DePaul's Fall 2012 Enrollment Profile
DePaul enters the new academic year with the largest undergraduate enrollment in university history (16,498 students), headlined by record classes of new freshmen and transfers.
- Applications for admission to this fall's freshman class increased significantly—almost 9 percent over last year—to a record 18,160 applicants.
- The freshman class stands at an all-time record high of 2,593 students.
- About 34 percent of this fall's freshmen are students of color, 31 percent are first generation and 11 percent are from Chicago Public Schools.
- Freshmen from outside Illinois now comprise 35 percent of the class.
- The academic quality profile is very strong. The mean high school GPA is 3.6 and mean composite ACT score is 25.2, both comparable to last year, and 52 percent of freshmen graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school class.
- Applications for transfer admission increased to a record 5,517. New undergraduate transfer enrollment is 1,542 students (not including SNL), an all-time high.
Comparison to Predicted Rates
- DePaul's overall six-year graduation rate consistently exceeds the rate predicted given DePaul's overall institutional and student profile. According to the U.S. News & World Report ranking formula in the 2013 edition, using 2011 data, DePaul's predicted graduation rate was 63 percent and actual was 66 percent.
- Institutional graduation rates are highly predictable from the profile of the student body enrolling at the institution; specifically, much of the variance in graduation rates at four-year institutions can be explained by the academic, demographic and socioeconomic profile of the undergraduate student enrollment at those institutions as well as other institutional attributes such as residential capacity.