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Friday, April 16, 2021

Across the country, about one in three students won’t return to college for their sophomore year. But at UF, the retention rate is much higher. 

UF currently sits at a 97 percent retention rate, making it one of the universities with the highest retention rates in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

The university’s retention rate has remained consistent — from 2013 until 2017, with the exception of 2016, UF had a retention rate of 96 percent, the Gainesville Sun reported.

Charles Murphy, director of freshmen and international admissions, said UF’s Office of Admissions has a comprehensive recruitment and review process to ensure students admitted to the college will succeed.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of interest in UF, which means we receive many more applications than there are spaces in the freshmen class,” Murphy said. “Because of the strengths of our applicants, we are confident that every admitted student is capable of success at UF.”

Among the reasons for withdrawing from the university are academic performance, family emergencies, financial need, homesickness and medical circumstances, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

Analiese DeRoberts withdrew from UF after her first semester due to homesickness. The 19-year-old from Syracuse, New York, struggled in adapting to Gainesville so she decided to transfer colleges.

“I was unsure if I was making the right decision in dropping out,” DeRoberts said. “I was nervous I would regret it. I think some of my reasons were that UF was far from home and I’m a big family person, so the school was too large in comparison to what I was used to.”

Kelviyana Walker, a 19-year-old UF biology sophomore, said her first semester was difficult as she had to adapt to a new environment.

“I had to adjust to the hardships of independence, and the dorms were not helping with that,” Walker said. “I was not prepared for the coursework of general chemistry, and I had not even known about this course load until after the class started, so that didn’t help with my adjustment. Overall, the first year was a lesson.”

Joseph Spillane, associate dean for UF Student Affairs and director of the academic advising center at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said advisers help direct students to appropriate offices depending on their issues.

“Advisers work to promote retention of new undergraduates by ensuring that students understand that seeking help when they encounter challenges and difficulties is a good thing to do, and know what resources are available to them for support,” Spillane said.

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UF students said that academic advisers are helpful in guiding them through the undergraduate journey. 

“At first, I decided to come here because I wanted to become a dentist and one of the three dental schools in Florida was here,” Walker said. “Eventually, I realized I did not want to be a dentist, yet I still stayed at UF because of the prestigious reputation it holds and many opportunities it has to venture out into your chosen field.”

Brinsley Hess, an 18-year-old UF chemical engineering freshman, said her academic adviser made her transition into college a more pleasant one.

“My academic adviser helped me in choosing my classes for my first semester and the current semester, and he also helped me in deciding whether my major is right for me,” Hess said.

Murphy said the university strives for a retention rate that reflects the experience of the students.

“The retention rate is certainly a testament to the students themselves, and they are also assisted by various faculty and staff across campus during their time at UF,” Murphy said.

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