Retention At STCC

Can a college examine student retention prior to defining what retention is to the particular institution? There is currently one standard, national retention definition that was established by the federal government and must be reported by all colleges on an annual basis. That definition is:

Program Retention: Tracks the full-time student in a degree program over time (6yrs/4yr college, 3yrs/2yr college) to determine whether the student has completed the program.

Center for the Study of College Retention: Retention Definitions

This cohort-based rate is the rate from which the Federal Student Right to Know Graduation Rate is calculated.  But this retention definition does not include students who carry less than a full-time load in their first semester at the college. At STCC, this rate represents about 50% of our incoming class on average.

Important Definitions

Course Retention

  • Course Completion Rates
  • Course Pass Rates

Student Retention

Fall to Fall

Essential Concepts

  1. Cohort:  A cohort is a body of students that have something in common.  This can be start term; enrolled term; their program or course; or a demographic profile such as gender, race, service received, or academic placement.
  2. First-time: A first-time student is one who is attending STCC for the first time.
  3. Freshman vs Transfer:  A freshman never attended college previously while a transfer is a student who has prior college experience whether they are transferring in credits from another institution or not.
  4. New Student:  A student enrolling in credit bearing courses
  5. Census Date:  The date the college takes an official snapshot of the term enrollment.  It is also called the freeze date.

Types of Retention Reporting

  1. Course Retention: The Course Completion Rate is the number of students enrolled in each credit course after the course census date divided by the number of students who successfully complete the course and earn a grade of D- or better at the end of the term.
    • For Achieving the Dream, this definition is modified to a Course Pass Rate that reflects the number of students who successfully complete the course and earn a grade of C or better at the end of the term.
  2. Student Retention: Tracks the students' enrollment patterns. There are three relevant time frames:
    • Term to Term tracks the student enrollment pattern across consecutive terms Fall to Spring or Spring to Fall.
    • Year to Year tracks the student enrollment pattern across consecutive years Fall to Fall or Spring to Spring.
    • Progressive Retention tracks an incoming class (term cohort) through their academic experience.

Definition of Institutional Cohorts

The term-based Cohort used to calculate a retention rate can be based on one of many definitions.  STCC reports:

  1. Total Term Headcount = All students enrolled with registered credits in a specific term.
  2. National Cohort = All first-time, full-time degree-seeking Freshman in a specific term.
  3. Freshman (CSRDE) Cohort = All first-time degree-seeking Freshman full or part-time in a specific term.
  4. Incoming (ATD) Cohort = All incoming degree-seeking first-time freshman or transfer students in a specific term.
  5. Persisting (BHE) Cohort = Any new students in a specific term who attempted at least 18 credits within two years of initial enrollment and did not enroll in ESL.
  6. Concentrator (Perkins) Cohort = Any student who has earned 12 credits by the start of a specific term.