Understanding Retention Rates by Ethnicity: You Need to Be Looking Deeper

With the Fall semester beginning, it’s time to think about your retention plans. How are you identifying which students are at higher risk of dropping out or transferring? With your student population, what factors are associated with this higher risk? And what are you doing about them? MARKETview provides unique vision into how students retain and succeed. 

Retention & Ethnicity

It’s common knowledge by now that average retention rates are not equal across all students, and a student’s demographic background – race, ethnicity, and gender in particular – can have an impact on the rate at which they retain during their first year. Underrepresented minority students and students of color tend to retain at lower rates. The problem with this assumption is that it can miss important nuance about how different populations within the larger cohort of students of color are retaining, and how these rates have changed over time. 

Analysis of first-year student records across MARKETview partners from public and private institutions shows the rate at which students of color and students not of color retain is similar:  

First-Year Retention by ETHNICITY

Public Colleges & Universities

Ethnicity 1st Yr Retention Rate
Of Color82%
Not of Color82.3%

Private Colleges & Universities

Ethnicity 1st Yr Retention Rate
Of Color81.1%
Not of Color85.6%

But, when we dive deeper, a different story emerges. 

Public Colleges & Universities

Ethnicity Detail1st Yr Retention Rate
American Indian/Alaskan Native 83.9%
Black/African American76.5%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander80.0%
Two or More Races79.4%

Private Colleges & Universities

Ethnicity Detail1st Yr Retention Rate
American Indian/Alaskan Native 78.1%
Black/African American78.9%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander87.5%
Two or More Races81.6%

At public institutions we see Black/African American students are lagging behind the average retention rate of students of color by 5.5 percentage points. At private institutions, Black/African American students are lagging behind by 2.2 percentage points and American Indian/Alaskan Native students by 3 percentage points. 

Are you able to look at your retention rates by specific ethnicity, instead of just of color and not of color? How does this change the story of retention on your campus, or shape your student success program?

By providing decision-grade analytics on demand, MARKETview can flag retention risks in your entering class and inform your strategies and investments for effectively managing them.