INTRODUCTION In fall of 1998, Western enrolled 2199 new freshmen; in the fall of 1999, 1725 of them returned, for a 78.4% retention rate. This study examine what influences freshman retention and also grade point average, the key indicator of academic adjustment and by far the most powerful predictor of retention. The orientation of this analysis, like all those performed by the Office of Institutional Research and Resource Planning, is toward policy. We seek to develop knowledge that may help Western serve its students and the public better-in this case by improving early academic adjustment and increasing retention. All Western students are admitted because they show the promise to succeed. Some of those who encounter adjustment difficulties early or decide not to return may have learned that college is not the best alternative for them. For most, however, adjustment difficulties and non-retention reflect a failure on the student's part, or a failure of the institution to support the student as well as we might have, or both. Our analysis of what influences retention identifies many factors Western cannot change, such as students' high school academic achievement, but our primary goal is to identify factors Western has some ability to change, measured as early in students' experience as possible. SUMMARY This copy of Focus summarizes the findings from a much longer technical report examining retention among native freshmen who entered Western in fall, 1998. (To obtain a copy of the whole report see the bottom of page six.) To increase our understanding of why students were or were not retained at Western, the study used data from Admissions and Registrar's files including course transcripts for all 1998 entering freshmen, a survey of 600 selected at random, and in-depth interviews with 32 who received low grades their first quarter. A few withdrawals (14.4% or 3.1% of the freshman class) realized almost immediately that Western and/or college was not right for them and left during or after fall quarter. Most withdrawals, however, (62.2% or 13.4% of the freshman class) completed the academic year, then chose not to return. One factor was found to predict early withdrawal: living on versus off campus. Withdrawals who live on campus were nearly twice as likely as those who lived off campus to complete the freshman year.
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Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
College freshmen--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Statistics; College dropouts--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Statistics
Subjects - Names (LCNAF)
Western Washington University--Freshmen--Statistics
Simpson, Carl; Schmidtz, Sharon; Clark, Linda D. (Linda Darlene); and McKinney, Gary (Gary Russell), "Analysis of Freshmen Retention: Fall 1998 to Fall 1999. Executive Summary" (2001). Office of Survey Research. 605.