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First-year persistence research update

Jan 17, 2019

Persistence (or retention) is a measure used by colleges and universities to monitor student progress towards their degree and eventual graduation. Pacific experienced a decline in persistence to 84.4% as reported in fall 2018. This means that 84.4% of new freshmen that started in fall 2017 returned to enroll at Pacific in fall 2018. Persistence for the previous year was 87.5% for 2016 freshmen returning in fall 2017.

Pacific has a goal of a 90% first-year persistence rate. Much research was conducted to understand this decline and what Pacific could do to prevent a similar decline in future years.

Research indicates that the students who did not persist had more difficulty passing courses than students in prior years. This is a surprising finding considering that there was little to no difference in High School GPA, SAT and financial aid as compared to prior cohorts of students. The research also shows that these students may have had more non-academic factors (e.g. medical, personal, etc.) that led to poor course performance. The First-Year Persistence presentation shows a summary of the work to date and next steps. There will be ongoing analyses with further disaggregation and additional examination in January.

There is a common misconception about the students who leave Pacific, that we lose highly qualified students to the UC system or that only students with lower GPAs leave the university. The last section of the presentation addresses these and other questions. Other reports and disaggregation on student data are available on the Institutional Research SharePoint site. More information is available on the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) dashboard (please go to the student success section). Make sure to click on the KPI box to see more detail.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to submit any questions about the research or ideas for additional follow-ups directly to Associate Provost Mike Rogers in Planning and Research at mrogers@pacific.edu.

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