Student Retention, U.S.

Student retention in U.S. higher education is a term that refers to the rate at which postsecondary institutions keep their students enrolled and graduate their students. This term is often used interchangeably with the term student persistence, which refers to the rate at which students continue their education, although not necessarily with the same institution. Student retention focuses on the institution’s efforts to keep students enrolled, while student persistence refers to the student’s efforts to continue their education. The converse of student retention is student attrition, which refers to the rate at which students leave college without completing a degree.

A major goal of colleges, universities, and state and federal performance accountability initiatives has been to improve the retention and graduation of students. Consequently, postsecondary institutions, ...

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