The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to exploreThe Short List: College,The Short List: Grad SchoolandThe Short List: Online Programsto find data that matter to you in your college or graduate school search.
Prospectivecollegestudents cantour a school’s campusor visit its website to figure out if that school will be a fit. But they can’t truly judge if the college is right for them until they start freshman year.
Many first-year students soon realize, for various reasons, that it isn’t, and thenleave the school.
At some colleges, almost all freshmen are certain to return for sophomore year. The average freshman retention rate at Columbia University and Yale University for the fall 2009 through fall 2012 entering classes was 99 percent. These schools had the highest average retention rate among 1,344 ranked institutions that submitted data to U.S. News in an annual survey.
Several schools came close to matching Columbia and Yale’s rate. At the University of Chicago, an average of 98.75 percent of freshmen who started between fall 2009 and fall 2012 came back for another year. The rate at Princeton University and Stanford University was 98.25.
South Universityin Georgia had the lowest freshman retention rate. An average 30 percent of first-year students returned for sophomore year. Among all ranked institutions that submitted retention rate data to U.S. News, the average was 75.5 percent.
Below is a list of the 10 schools with the highest average retention rate for freshmen who started between fall 2009 and fall 2012. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
Averagefreshman retention rate (2009-2012 fall entering classes)
U.S. News surveyed nearly 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2014 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings ofBest Colleges,Best Graduate SchoolsorBest Online Programs. The retention data above are correct as of June 30, 2015.