Freshmen retention rate low, 15% leave

By Gina Peracchia
February 21, 2003

It is estimated that 15 percent of freshmen students transfer out of Cabrini each year. So why do so many freshmen transfer during their first year?

“That’s a national phenomenon. I think people aren’t sure in their freshmen year what they want to do or what they want to be. I think it has to do with just being relatively young and sort of unsure of their direction,” Dr. Catharine O’Connell, dean for Academic Affairs, said.

Students who are interested in leaving the school must go through O’Connell for a number of reasons. The college wants to know why people are leaving to know if there are issues that need to be worked on. She also wants to make sure students have thought through their decision to leave, because many times they do not understand the implications in terms of finances and transcripts.

“I can’t fix financial problems, but I work with the financial aid department closely, and sometimes it’s not as big of a problem as the students think. Sometimes students can become really overwhelmed with problems that are actually solvable,” O’Connell said.

According to O’Connell, there are different categories for reasons students want to transfer: “good” and “problematic” reasons.

“Good reasons would include a student discovering an interest or talent in an area we don’t offer. Some students also really want the experience of a large school after the relative safety of a good first year at a small institution,” O’Connell said.

Problematic reasons that O’Connell finds are students wanting to be closer to high school friends and feeling there is not enough to do on campus.

Not all freshmen students are ready to leave home and be out on their own right after graduating from high school. This is another reason many freshmen feel they need to leave.

Last year, sophomore Elizabeth Kronenberg had to live with a young woman who desperately wanted to be closer to home because she missed her mother.

“Her mother is her only relative and they were really close. She decided within the first three months [of the first semester] that she wanted to transfer, and she left the second semester,” Kronenberg said.

The students who transfer into this school say they enjoy it here and would not have it any other way. Krista Fittipoldi, a junior, transferred here last year and has enjoyed every minute of it.

“I transferred [to Cabrini] because of how good their education program is, and I love the atmosphere,” Fittipoldi said.

Matthew Cornely, a junior and communications major, transferred to Cabrini from Kutztown University and thinks it is the best decision he has made thus far concerning his future.

“I transferred to Cabrini because of the reputation of my major and the relatively convenient location to my home,” Cornely said.

Sometimes students feel they will be happier at a different school, and they give off “the grass is greener” impression when they say they want to leave. In O’Connell’s opinion, students will probably end up disappointed.

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Gina Peracchia

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