A quarter of St. John’s freshmen appear to be one and done with the University, according to a school study.
The St. John’s Office of Institutional Research reports that 75 percent of freshmen enrolled at the Queens and Manhattan campuses during the Fall 2007 semester returned for their second year.
The number is declining for the fifth straight year, with 78 percent returning in Fall 2006, 77 percent coming back for the Fall 2005 semester, 78 percent during 2004 and 2003 and 81 percent for the Fall 2002 semester.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, the average retention rates of freshmen entering between 2003 and 2006 at Queens College was 84 percent. In that same period of time, the retention rate at Manhattan College was 84 percent, while Wagner college registered an 86 percent rate.
Some students said they do not need to read any statistics to see the apparent growth of transfers out of St. John’s.
“It seems like more and more kids leave every year,” said Reed Frazier, a senior.
Others also said they know of people who have transferred.
“A good 50-60 percent of my friends left,” said junior Ivan Aguirre. “People decided to transfer to schools in the area, Stony Brook and Hofstra.”
Students said that their peers left for a variety of reasons, such as financial problems, issues with the University, or a lack of academic drive.
While some students speculated as to why their peers have left, school officials do not have any insight.
“We know that students leave the University, but we don’t know for certain if they leave for another institution or enter the workforce,” said Christine Goodwin, director of data management, analysis and reporting for Institutional Research.
According to Goodwin, there is no policy in place requiring students to inform the University of their plans after they leave.
“Once an individual leaves, we may not be able to get in touch with them,” she said. “Students don’t have to document anything.”
The University collects retention rates of freshmen because, as Goodwin claims, freshmen historically have held high retention rates.
When asked why the retention rates of upperclassmen are not recorded, Goodwin said, “There are only so many hours in a day. We can only provide so much information.”
Jeffrey Fagen, dean of St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, had a theory of his own as to why retention rates after freshman year are less important to keep track of.
“Generally, once a student hits sophomore year and declares a major, they’re more likely to stay,” Fagen said. “The bigger issue then becomes graduation rate. Obviously you need to retain people in order to graduate.”
Goodwin said though the University does not collect information detailing why students leave, she would welcome the inclusion of additional figures.
“We would love to have that information. We have been trying to refine that process for some time… We do want to know why. But how do you get [the students] to give us that information?”
Institutional Research does keep records of students transferring to St. John’s from other schools.
This information has been made public and can be found online via the Institutional Research Fact book on the St. John’s Web site.
“It’s important to understand why [students are] leaving,” said freshman Michael Healey. “Let them speak honestly and openly and take that information into consideration and make an effort to do something about it.”