Most people think of a bachelor’s degree as a four-year program, but some students take from six to eight years to earn their degrees. In fact, Mills’ Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Academic Assessment reports that out of the 188 first-year undergraduate students who enrolled at Mills in 2008, 107 graduated in 2012; that is a 57 percent retention and graduation rate.
A retention rate of 57 percent may seem low for a tight-knit college like Mills where the student-to-faculty ratio is 10 to 1. However, retention rates at Mills are in line with the national average.
The National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, reported the 2011 graduation rate for full-time, first-time undergraduate students who entered into a four-year institution for a bachelor’s degree in fall 2005 was 59 percent.
NCES is the “primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations,” according to the organization’s website.
NCES also provides historical data reflecting retention and graduation rates for schools nationwide for the past 20 years. Undergraduate enrollment in the U.S. has increased 37 percent between 2000 and 2010. Undergraduate enrollment from women rose 62 percent during the same period.
There are many reasons academic institutions track student progress throughout their academic careers. According to the 2013 strategic plan, one way Mills uses these reports is to evaluate student success and the effectiveness admission efforts. In turn, the strategic planning commitee takes a closer look at what groups of students show decreasing rates and then plans how to “create a more student-centric culture to improve admissions, and particularly, retention.” Although tracking student progress is important, by collecting this information NCES is fulfilling a congressional mandate to “collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally,” according to the NCES website.
Colleges track returning students from semester to semester and year to year until graduation. Tracking students’ progress at this level allows institutions to see how many students continue at the same institution throughout their entire academic career.
“About 59 percent of full-time, first-time students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2005 completed that degree within 6 years. The graduation rate for females (61 percent) was higher than the rate for males (56 percent),” according to the
NCES refers to the overall graduation rate is also known as “Student Right to Know” graduation rate. It tracks the progress of students who began their studies as full-time, first-time degree or certificate-seeking to see if they complete a degree or other award such as a certificate within 150 percent of “normal time” (we look at 2006 because students graduate between four to six years in a bachelor’s program) for completing the program in which they are enrolled.
At Mills, retention rates for first-time students pursuing bachelor’s degrees for students who began their studies in fall 2011 and returned in fall 2012 is 77 percent. However, the overall graduation rate for students who began their studies in fall 2006 is 66 percent.
Undergraduate applicants at Mills for fall 2012 total 2,032 students. Out of the total UG applicant’s 1280 students were admitted and 325 of those students enrolled in classes.
Total enrollment at Mills for fall 2012 totaled 1,545 students. Out of the total UG enrollment 949 students were undergraduates, 131 students were undergraduate transfer students and 596 were graduate students.
Mills undergraduate admission data reports for the 2013 school year have not yet been reported. Alice Knudsen, director of the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Academic Assessment at Mills, said her department is still waiting for information from one department before they can publish their 2013 data.
Knudsen was able to disclose preliminary numbers reflecting a retention rate for the first-year cohort of 81% for first to second year, and 70% for second to third year.