Freshman Retention Rate

National Universities

As many as one in three first-year students doesn't make it back for sophomore year. The reasons run the gamut from family problems and loneliness to academic struggles and a lack of money. If schools you're considering have a low freshman retention rate, you'll want to ask the admissions office why. Some colleges do a great job of taking care of their freshmen; some don't. The retention rates shown below, from highest to lowest, are the average proportion of freshmen entering starting in fall 2008 through fall 2011 who returned to school the following fall.

School Average freshman retention rate
Columbia University

New York, NY

99%
University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

99%
Yale University

New Haven, CT

99%
Brown University

Providence, RI

98%
California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, CA

98%
Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH

98%
Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

98%
Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

98%
Stanford University

Stanford, CA

98%
University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

98%
University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

98%
Duke University

Durham, NC

97%
Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

97%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA

97%
Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

97%
University of California—​Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

97%
University of California—​Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

97%
University of North Carolina—​Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

97%
University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

97%
University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

97%
Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

97%
Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

96%
Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

96%
Georgetown University

Washington, DC

96%
Rice University

Houston, TX

96%

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