Freshmen retention strong for Spring 2010


by Becca Harris/Staff Writer

The strong retention numbers Simpson saw last fall have carried over to spring semester. The number of freshmen who left after one semester is similar, if not a little slightly lower than previous years.Approximately 6 percent of freshmen did not return for a second semester of classes. There were a variety of reasons why students chose to transfer. The most common appears to be financial. As school tuition continues to rise, it seems to become more and more difficult for students to get the amount of financial aid they need without taking out massive loan amounts. These matters worsen with the tough economic times the country faces.Students not only have to pay for their education through tuition, but also must provide their own books and a number of other things attached to college life: parking spots, laundry, toilet paper (for upper classmen living), and other school related supplies.Rebecca Livingstone, assistant professor of history, said that although this is a major problem, Simpson has done a nice job of assuring students a proper education and, in turn, they continue to return for a second semester. Every student from her Liberal Arts Seminar returned for the second semester.”I think that the Simpson LAS program does a good job of making an effort to integrate new students into the community here, which I suspect can play an important role in a student’s decision to stay,” Livingstone said. Freshman Barbara Pearson is one freshman who did not return to Simpson for a second semester. She transferred to Grand View University in Des Moines to continue her education for a number of reasons.”Grand View seems to have just as decent of programs as Simpson, but I didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for tuition,” Pearson said.Pearson also received more scholarships from multiple foundations and said books for the classes there don’t add up to what she paid for them at Simpson. She also said laundry is a lot cheaper and she is closer to home, so she is saving money on fuel.Another thing Pearson looked at before transferring was the amount of money she was spending on her education directly through her major. She figured that she was going to pay less through Grand View for an education that more directly linked with her major.Jim Thorius, vice president of student development and dean of students, is very happy with the nearly 94 percent of freshmen who returned to Simpson for a second semester. He recognizes that many freshman have been heavily impacted by their own, as well as their family’s economic situations, but the majority of them return to finish out their Simpson education. “Our overall retention rates this past fall were good,” Thorius said. “The first to second year return rate was the highest retention rate in at least the last 30 years,”Thorius also said that the financial aid office has been working with many students this year to ensure that their financial situations are the best they can be. They have explored every option available to allow students to continue their Simpson educations.”I am very happy as they are all students who make positive contributions to the Simpson community, both in and out of the classroom,” Livingstone said.