Schools across the country had the highest enrollment in history for first-time freshmen in fall 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dean of Admission Ray Brown said the university’s fall 2009 class was the largest with 1,821 students. The pre 12-day predicted enrollment for the fall 2010 class was 1,824.
The problem came when those same people planned to graduate on time with a relevant degree and a job.
According to Higheredinfo.org, in 2008, 49.6 percent of the university’s original first-time freshman class graduated within the normal four-year time frame, just slightly below the national average of 55.9 percent. The retention rate of students last year at the university was 85.5 percent, higher than the national rate of 74.7 percent and the Texas rate of 72.4 percent.
Brown said the shift to a higher retention began with the hiring of Chancellor Victor Boschini in 2003 and Boschini’s background in student affairs. Brown said the higher retention rate was a good start.
Brown said that even with the increase in retention rates, some students still left the university shortly after arriving during the period before class sizes are finalized.
“[We] lose a handful between now and then,” Brown said. “[There are students] who get here and think “you know what, this wasn’t a good idea.’ We call them U-turns. They get here, turn around and go back, as opposed to the no-shows.”
John Thompson, executive director of University Career Services, said the increased retention rate at the university might be a result of the office’s ability to help students and graduates find jobs.
“Students have been reluctant in the past because they think, “I’m not graduating for four years,’ when in essence what companies are saying right now is, “If I want to hire, they’d better have some work experience,” Thompson said.
Career services offers more than work opportunities. The center can help students build resumes, give mock interviews, offer information about possible careers with any major and administer tests to determine what strengths and weaknesses students have so they can better determine the best major for them.
“We encourage self-exploration,” Thompson said. “We encourage thinking about what you want to do with your life, get as much information as you can about those kind of things.”
Junior English and history double major Dalton Goodier said there was more to college now than just making the grade.
“It’s all about the intangibles,” he said. “How you can create a resume, how you can basically sell yourself. How you can find jobs and network.”
Freshman nursing major Laura Posluszny said students might drop out because of the pressure of making high enough grades to keep their scholarships.
According to the TCU Factbook, 70 percent of students receive some sort of assistance from the financial aid office.
Thompson said that though the university’s retention rate exceeded the national and state average, one reason students were not finishing college could be because of the current economic situation.
Brown said the university still had room for improvement. Admission staff were seeking improvement with each new freshman class by increasing the academic quality of incoming students, he said.
“The better student you have on the front end, the more likely you are to graduate that student on the back end,” Brown said.