Ten percent of college-ready high school graduates don’t enroll in college and another 9 percent don’t make it to the second year, according to ACT’s 2013 Reality of College Readiness Report. As many as 43 percent of all ACT-tested 2011 graduates were not enrolled in college by fall 2012.
“Academic readiness is vital to college success, but other factors such as self-discipline, financial stress and effective educational planning can also have an impact,” said Steve Kappler, head of postsecondary strategy for ACT. “It’s important for students to find the right college, be aware of financial aid opportunities and ensure their major matches their personal interests, among other things.”
First-to-second-year retention rates for four-year colleges averaged 72.3 percent in 2008, down slightly from 1991. At the community college level, 55.7 percent of students returned for a second year in 2012, up slightly from the 2004 rate. The three-year persistence-to-degree rates was 25.5 percent in 2012, down from 38.8 percent in 1989.
Colleges and universities with higher-than-average retention rates were more likely to offer a comprehensive learning assistance center or reading, writing and math centers, earlier research found. In addition, these colleges had a program for first-generation students, more academic advisors and tutors, pre-enrollment financial aid advising, an academic skills diagnostic and advising integrated with career/life planning. In contradiction to recent trends, colleges with higher retention rates mandated remedial placement based on test scores, ACT found.