By Emily Landgraf
Though Rider seemed to face an overcrowding problem at the beginning of the fall semester, the increase in single rooms — and
even some empty rooms — left some students thinking there had been a mass student exit this semester.
However, Rider’s retention rate has remained steady for the past three years, according to the Office of Enrollment Management.
While some students bid Rider adieu before the spring semester began, 95 percent of the undergraduates chose to continue their education here, according to administrators.
Rider’s attrition rate between the fall and spring semesters for the last three years has been a steady 95 percent. However, in order to compare Rider to other institutions, one must look at the national reports, according to Vice President of Enrollment Management Jamie O’Hara.
“Retention rates are reported in national reports for freshmen only from fall to fall,” O’Hara wrote in an e-mail.
According to O’Hara, Rider’s freshmen retention was 80 percent last fall, about the same as the past three years.
“This is the important rate in comparing us with national trends or with other schools,” he said.
According to ACT.org, the national average freshmen retention rate for schools like Rider that offer master’s degrees in addition to bachelor’s degrees is 71.4 percent.
According to O’Hara, ACT.org also reports freshmen retention rates based on the selectivity of an institution.
“On this scale, we most closely resemble ‘Selective,’” he said. “The national average for retention in that group of schools is 80.6 percent.”
When compared with other freshmen retention rates of area schools, Rider is on track.
According to collegeboard.com, Rider’s freshmen retention rate is 79 percent, which is consistent with information provided by the Office of Enrollment.
Monmouth University has a freshmen retention rate of 80 percent, as reported to collegeboard.com. Other comparable universites such as Seton Hall University and Fairleigh Dickinson University have freshmen retention rates of 82 percent and 73 percent, respectively.
According to Dean of Students Anthony Campbell, the administration pays close attention to the retention rate because “it is an opportunity to make sure students get off to a good start.”
“The retention rate is a number that we’re always working to improve, though we are very happy to be at 80 percent,” he said.
Campbell believes the retention rate between semesters is high because Rider has invested in financial aid.
“I think the university has done an awful lot to help people with changing financial circumstances,” he said. “Our focus is on our students, and investing in financial aid is just one of several ways we have helped our students stay.”
Between the fall and spring semesters, 164 students withdrew from the institution. This year, 61 freshmen, 14 transfers and 89 upperclassmen left Rider permanently — 5 percent of the student body.
According to Campbell, there are many reasons why student leave Rider.
“They withdraw, medical withdrawals are a part of that,” he said. “You have people who just want to leave for second semester because of financial reasons.”
Campbell also explained that some students choose to leave the residence halls but do not leave the institution.
“They want to save some money by living off campus,” he said. “There are many, many reasons why we always have fewer students second semester than we do first semester.”
Despite the work the university puts in to keep students coming back to Rider, some will inevitably leave the institution for good. This was the case for former Rider student Jamie Parton.
“I chose to transfer for two reasons,” she said. “One, because I was switching my major from secondary education and Spanish to fashion design at a different school. And two, because I was unhappy [Rider] was a backpack school, so everybody went home on the weekends and I just sat in my dorm and was bored from Friday night to Monday morning.”
Parton has transferred to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchanding in Los Angeles and is happy with her decision.
Another female student who wished to remain anonymous also transferred out of Rider to pursue a major that the university does not offer.
“This semester I am at a community college but I have decided that I am going to get my degree in baking and pastry arts at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City,” she said.
The student transferred because she felt her options within the university were limited.
“I was unhappy with Rider,” she said. “It just wasn’t meeting my expectations. The dance program was different than I expected; I was pretty disappointed that there weren’t many options as far as types of dance classes I could take.”
At the beginning of the fall semester, there were 954 male resident students and 1,557 female students. Rider residence halls now have 75 fewer men and 178 fewer women.
However, 27 new male residents and 55 new female residents now call Rider’s campus home.
Despite the loss of a number students in the residence halls, director of Housing Operations Roberta Butler said that Rider met both its fall and spring occupancy goals.
“Even though we successfully met our occupancy goals for both fall and spring, we are not surprised that the number of vacancies in the spring is higher than the fall semester,” she said. “We are, however, pleased that there are 23 less vacancies in the residence halls this spring than at the same time last year.”