A record 99% of first-year undergraduates who started at Florida State University last fall returned for the spring semester, one of the best first-semester retention rates in the country and another indicator of FSU’s national leadership in student success.
FSU’s historic first-semester retention, in a class of more than 6,000 students, is among the highest in the nation at both public and private universities, according to FSU’s Office of Institutional Research, which monitors enrollment and tracks retention rates between years and semesters.
“The record high fall-to-spring retention rate represents the university’s excellence and upward momentum,” said President Richard McCullough. “I’m grateful to all the dedicated faculty and staff who work every day to make sure our students thrive here and have many reasons to stay.”
“The record high fall-to-spring retention rate represents the university’s excellence and upward momentum. I’m grateful to all the dedicated faculty and staff who work every day to make sure our students thrive here and have many reasons to stay.”
— President Richard McCullough
At public four-year institutions, the most recently recorded average retention rate from first to second fall was 82%, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
High retention from fall to the spring semester may signal similarly positive numbers for long-term retention rates and, ultimately, graduation rates for the newest cohort of FSU students, according to Joe O’Shea, associate provost and dean of the Division of Undergraduate Studies. The first year typically garners the highest attrition rates, so fall-to-spring retention bodes well for future semesters.
“We have shaped an excellent and distinctive learning experience here at FSU,” O’Shea said. “From the moment students arrive, we help them find community, mentors, academic support and enrichment opportunities.”
FSU recorded its best six-year graduation rate last year at 85% and achieved its fourth consecutive year as a Top 20 public national university according to U.S. News and World Report, which includes retention and graduation data in its assessment.
The university has invested in a broad variety of programs and initiatives designed to help students have a positive experience.
An Engage 100 course – required for the first time in Fall 2022 – places first-year students into small, immersive, mentor-guided academic cohorts that help them find support and community as they transition to FSU.
The Center for Academic Retention & Enhancement (CARE) serves first-generation college students with a range of programs, including a new living-learning community, where students live together in a residence hall and benefit from specialized coaching, advising and tutoring services.
The new invitation-only QUEST Scholars program launched last fall offers students from under-resourced communities additional support as they transitioned to FSU and a renewable scholarship each year for up to four years for participating in the QUEST Scholars experience.
Programs designed to challenge and engage, such as the Honors Program and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, grew this year.
So did initiatives created to enhance academic support, such as Academic Advising and the Learning Assistant Program, in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, which trains peer leaders to work in partnership with faculty to maximize the learning that takes place in the classroom.
O’Shea added that when the university retains its students and ensures they graduate on time, taxpayers of Florida benefit, too.
FSU won 15 Florida TaxWatch Productivity Awards in 2022, the most garnered by any institution in the State University System.
“We have a responsibility to the students, their families and the State of Florida to deliver a world-class education to all our students from day one,” O’Shea said. “We’ve intentionally cultivated an experience that engages, challenges and supports all of our students to grow to their full potential.”