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Retention Rates

Retention is an important measure of student achievement and persistence. In particular, an institution's second-year retention rate (i.e., the percentage of first-time, full-time students who return for sophomore year) has emerged as an industry standard throughout higher education.

Benchmark Data

Based on the most recent two years of available data, Bellarmine's second-year retention rate outpaces the national average as well as its peers in the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU) and public four-year institutions in Kentucky:

Fall-to-Fall Retention Benchmarks

Bellarmine's faculty, staff and administration, along with its Board of Trustees, rely on University-established key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor strategic goals and ensure continuous improvement. Bellarmine has traditionally emphasized the second-year retention rate as a KPI because it is among the strongest predictors of a student's future academic and career success. Fall-to-fall retention contributes significantly to a student's likelihood of graduating on time, continuing education at the graduate level and/or entering the workforce. It also speaks to other important strategic goals: the quality of instruction, the effectiveness of student success initiatives and the social and academic preparedness of each entering class.

Fall-to-Fall Retention Trends

The document below illustrates the fall-to-fall retention rate for the most recent first-time, full-time fall cohort and the preceding ten years of fall cohorts. Second-year retention rates are consistently near 80%, third-year rates near 70% and fourth-year rates near 68%.

Official Fall-to-Fall Retention  Click image to open full-sized PDF
Official Fall-to-Fall Retention, Cohorts 2009-2019

Fall-to-fall retention of first-year students is the critical dependent variable used by Bellarmine's Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness and the Student Success Center in its award-winning First-Year Predictive Model. Initiated in 2017, the FYPM is a multi-year strategic project that guides the development of modern, high-impact interventions and communication with students about acquiring and applying academic and sociobehavioral skills that will serve them beyond their college years.

Fall-to-Spring Retention Trends

Fall-to-spring retention rates also play a role in University assessment and continuous improvement, as they demonstrate a meaningful snapshot of mid-year trends. The document below illustrates the fall-to-spring retention rate for the most recent first-time, full-time cohort and the preceding ten years of fall cohorts. First-year retention from fall to spring is consistently near 92%.

Official Fall-to-Spring Retention  Click image to open full-sized PDF
Official Fall-to-Spring Retention, Cohorts 2009-2019