Retention Rates Lower at Technical Colleges than Liberal Arts Colleges

Retention rates measure the percent of first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at the school the next year, indicating student satisfaction and the ability to handle their schools’ academic environment. The average retention rate of the top 20 liberal arts schools is 97% while that of the top 20 technical colleges is 89%. This rate is especially important at technical schools providing specialized training (usually in STEM fields) where students may be forced to drop out or transfer if they want to switch to a liberal arts major. High retention rates at these technical schools indicate strong student support, high quality of teaching, and student confidence to complete their STEM degree. Among technical schools, the Open Educational Database dataset placed Georgia Institute of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute at the top of the list.

Retention Rate Rank US News Rank 2020 School Retention Rate
20 29 Georgia Institute of Technology 97%
34 64 Worcester Polytechnic Institute 96%
47 54 Colorado School of Mines 94%
50 74 Stevens Institute of Technology 94%
54 74 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 94%
56 NA California Polytechnic State University – SLO 93%
61 48 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 93%
63 NA Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 93%
119 NA California State Polytechnic University – Pomona 89%
130 104 Rochester Institute of Technology 89%
148 NA SUNY College of Technology at Alfred 88%
161 117 Illinois Institute of Technology 87%
166 147 Michigan Technological University 87%
169 179 Missouri University of Science and Technology 87%
178 NA Milwaukee School of Engineering 87%
Note: "Retention Rate Rank" refers to the list of US colleges with the highest retention rates, while "US News Rank" is based on the US News annual ranking of best US colleges, and is provided for further context.
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