25 COLLEGES WITH HIGH FRESHMAN RETENTION RATES RANKED BY RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

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25 COLLEGES WITH HIGH FRESHMAN RETENTION RATES RANKED BY RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

High freshman retention is one of the best indicators not only of student satisfaction at a university, but also the likelihood that graduates will finish with lower debt than their peers who graduate from a different college than the one they originally enrolled in. Transferring between colleges and dropping out are among the greatest causes of increased student debt in the United States. Transfer students often take an extra year or two to complete their degree due to differences in curriculum and other factors. This significantly increases the cost of college.

So what can a person who can’t read the future do to minimize the chance of transferring? Well, among other things like being sure of what you intend to major in and doing research to make sure a school is a good fit for you, a great way to hedge your bets is to attend a university or college with a high freshman retention rate.

Methodology

The list we’ve compiled below includes the national universities and liberal arts colleges with the highest freshman retention rates according to U.S. News and World Report. Because the value of your education is important, we rank these high retention rate schools according to their 30 year average net return on investment according to figures from payscale.com. Also included in the list, for purely informational purposes, is the overall ranking of each institution according to U.S. News and World Report. The purpose of including this statistic is to provide you with an understanding of where the school stands in terms of quality, in addition to the ROI and retention rate figures. Schools are sorted by 30 year average net ROI, with the highest-ROI school occupying the #1 spot.

ROI Rankings of U.S. Schools with the Highest Retention Rates

Rank School Location
1 Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA
2 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
4 Stanford University Stanford, CA
5 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
6 Dartmouth College Hanover, NH
7 Williams College Williamstown, MA
8 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN
9 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
10 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
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  1. Harvey Mudd College
    Location

    Claremont, CA

    Looking at Harvey Mudd's statistics, one notices something out of the ordinary. How is it that a liberal arts college also boasts the highest 30 year average net ROI in the United States? Well, Harvey Mudd is just as unique as its statistics indicate. This private liberal arts university is one of the premier colleges in the U.S. for studies in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering. Harvey Mudd believes that the liberal arts model is fundamental to creating not just knowledgeable people, but leaders. Harvey Mudd College seeks to create leaders in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering. The school's model is time tested, and the results speak for themselves.

  2. California Institute of Technology
    Location

    Pasadena, CA

    The California Institute of Technology is one of the top schools in the world for Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering. Students have many opportunities to be involved with cutting edge research in their field. Students from Cal Tech often go on to start companies, become leaders in theory and research, and invent things that change the world.

  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    MIT is legendary for its STEM programs. Graduates from the school tend to work in the highest level of their respective fields. The school is hard, which is demonstrated by the 97% freshman retention rate. The school's ROI reflects the fact that the vast majority of students major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, which lead to the highest paying jobs and careers available to students with an undergraduate degree.

  4. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Stanford is a school with a highly entrepreneurial culture. If one combines the revenue of all the companies founded by Stanford alumni, that combination of companies would be the tenth largest economy in the world. Stanford has one of the lowest acceptance rates at 6.6%, but students that get in tend to stay in for the long haul. Stanford is highly ranked in all of the STEM categories, and is highly interdisciplinary, encouraging students from different programs to work together and create new technologies and and new applications for theories.

  5. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Harvard has the lowest acceptance rate of any school in the United States at 6.1% and has had a reputation for academic rigor and excellence since its founding in 1636, a mere eight years after the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Harvard's rich history and academic tradition has been continued and improved upon to this day. Its Law School, Medical School, Business School, Engineering, Science, Technology, and Math programs are all considered to be among the best in the world, as are the rest of Harvard's academic offerings.

  6. Dartmouth College
    Location

    Hanover, NH

    This ivy league school has a rich history and, as all the other ivy league schools, has both a high retention rate among freshmen, and a high 30 year average net ROI. The undergraduate programs at Dartmouth are more limited and focused than some areas, with a liberal arts college that covers the humanities, and top rung schools of medicine, business, and engineering.

  7. Williams College
    Location

    Williamstown, MA

    This private liberal arts college, which was originally a men's college, became co-ed in 1979 and women now constitute the gender majority at the school at 51.8% among undergraduate students. The school is ranked first among national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News, and in 2010-2011 was ranked first among all colleges and universities in the United States by Forbes, and is still ranked in the top ten by Forbes.

  8. University of Notre Dame
    Location

    Notre Dame, IN

    This private Roman Catholic university was founded in 1842 and its academic curriculum was originally modeled after the Jesuit method. The school embraces the Roman Catholic sensibilities of advocacy for social justice and seeks to imbue all students with a civic consciousness they will carry with them throughout their lives.

  9. Princeton University
    Location

    Princeton, NJ

    Princeton University is the top ranked school in the United States according to U.S. News and is consistently rated in the top three year after year. An ivy league school, Princeton features rigorous academic programs, and places great emphasis on research that sits on the very cutting cutting edge of all of the subjects offered at the school.

  10. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    The University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest universities in the United States. Located in the heart of the city of Philadelphia, the school is well known for its rigorous academic culture, and its significant research, particularly in the medical and business fields. The University of Pennsylvania also made our list of the 20 Most Impressive College Gyms and Student Rec Centers, providing further incentive for students to stick around past their freshman year.

By choosing one of these colleges with high freshman retention rates that also boast a high return on investment, you can be assured to get the most bang for your buck out of your college education.

Publish Date: July 2020

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