Colleges work on retention rates - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Colleges work on retention rates

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

According to recently released statistical data, Mississippi rates in the top 10 states for high school graduates going on to college. However, students seem to be getting discouraged once they start.

Kinzy Crook is in her first year at Holmes Community College in Ridgeland, and her schedule is full. Six classes, 19 credit hours. "When I head out to a university, I'm gonna major in broadcasting, minor in Spanish," she says. Crook is paying for college through financial aid.

Freshman Jacob Abbey is also taking 19 credit hours. Scholarships should see him through these first few years in the community college pre-nursing program. "My sister's at a university. She's not struggling but she's doing a lot more work. I didn't want to jump right into this," Abbey says.

Trying to do too much too soon might be one reason why Mississippi colleges and universities have lackluster retention rates. According to 2011 statistics, for every 100 students enrolling in a two year college in this state, only 56.3 percent of them enroll for the second year. At four year colleges, the percentage of students still enrolled in the fourth year is just over 65 percent.

The numbers aren't as high as education leaders would like, but we beat out Louisiana and Arkansas in those figures, and we're neck and neck with Georgia.

Also, 4 out of every 10 public college students are part time, and trends show that these students rarely graduate.

Holmes Community College is aware of the issues, but they've seen their graduation rate increase in the last year. "We have a lot of students who take math, science courses here," says Academic Counselor Allison DeWeese. She says community colleges are good choices because they are economical and close to home.

Holmes also guides students so they're not taking unnecessary courses. "Talk to them about career choices, help them understand that to reach their ultimate goal of being successful, they do need to go to college," she says.

Studies have shown that the more time a student spends in college, the less likely he or she is to graduate. 

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