Student retention rates drop


Ava Acharya

Data Visualization by Ava Acharya

Maria DiFelice, Staff Writer

Loyola’s retention rate has fallen slightly since last year, though it still remains better than the national average and the law school saw a slight bump in retention, according to the official student retention report.

Elizabeth Rainey, executive director of the Pan-American life student success center said that the undergraduate retention decrease comes as finances and the global pandemic have caused students to rethink the importance of college.

“There is so much going on in the world that it is hard to focus,” Rainey said.

While Loyola saw an overall decrease in undergraduate retention rates, from 92% to 90%. The university’s situation isn’t unique. Nationally, college graduation rates are dwindling as students struggle to handle the stress of recovering from the pandemic, according to The Guardian.

Loyola is working hard to figure out how to build a sense of community and belonging, which is the best way to increase retention rates at any school, Rainey said. Rainey said she has conducted focus groups to ask students what they need and what the university, which currently has a 90% undergraduate retention rate, can do to help build a community.

“Students who feel they matter on campus are more likely to stay through graduation,” Rainey said.

Online retention rates also decreased by seven percentage points this year, from 87% to 80%, according to the report. While the retention rate was lower than on-campus, online retention rates are consistently lower nationally, according to

Rainey said that online enrollment is unpredictable because students fully online may not enroll in classes every semester. Many online students have had to take a leave of absence or unenroll fully since the pandemic, Rainey said. Despite these students not being on campus, Rainey said the university wants to make sure that their voices are heard and taken into consideration.

“We will continue to ensure a high level of support for our online-only students, tailored to their unique needs,” Rainey said.

Despite the undergraduate retention rate decreasing, the law school retention rate has increased. The College of Law has seen a two percentage point increase since last spring, bringing their retention rate to 98%, according to the report.

Annie McBride, director of student life, said that while this year’s numbers are significant, she’s more excited about the College of Law’s long-term retention rates. Over the past five years, the law school has kept their retention rate above 90%, according to McBride.

“We attribute our strong retention rate to our top-notch faculty and the opportunities we provide our students,” McBride said.

Overall, the university retention rate decreased by two percentage points, with 89% of students graduating within four years, according to the report. Rainey said that Loyola is working hard for its students and trying to create a better community where everyone belongs.

“We enroll students at Loyola with the hopes of seeing them graduate four years later,” Rainey said.