Coming back for more:

Coming back for more:

by Brittany FriesthStaff Writer

According to enrollment numbers, the fall-to-spring semester retention for full-time freshmen students is an unofficial record of approximately 92.7 percent, which also matches the statistic from last year’s freshman class.

Due to business holds and registered students that have not notified the registrar’s office of their absence, the statistic is not official, but was able to be configured because of the few freshmen students with registration difficulties.

“This is the best estimation I have,” Jim Thorius, vice president for student development and dean of students, said. “It could change tomorrow.”

As compared to the previous six years of fall-to-spring retention rates, this makes for the seventh consecutive year above 90 percent. With records beginning at fall of 2001 to spring of 2002, the retention rate was 92.6 percent, with an increase of 1.4 percent the following year.

The freshmen retention rate between the semesters of fall 2004 and spring 2005 peaked at 94.4 percent, and has since slightly declined.

“It’s a goal that we focus on all the time to try and constantly look at how we can improve the quality of the programs and the services and the experiences here for students, so that they feel they are getting the most they can out of their Simpson experience,” Thorius said.

According to some freshmen students who have already transferred, some say Simpson was either not close enough to home or a just not a correct fit.

Felicia Zimmerman, former Simpson freshman, now attends Loras College after transferring at semester.

“If I had had more immediate family I would have stayed at Simpson,” Zimmerman said. “I absolutely loved the campus and made a lot of friends in one semester before I left.”

Another former freshman, Matt Fouts, who is currently a student at Des Moines Area Community College, transferred because Simpson didn’t feel right.

“I don’t know if it was anything they did or didn’t do,” Fouts said. “I think it was more of a personal preference.”

John Bolen, registrar and associate academic dean, also analyzes Simpson’s enrollment numbers and is familiar with the retention rates. Although Bolen does not meet with Simpson students wanting to transfer, he interacts daily with four-to-five different students to address various issues and offer assistance.

“We know what tends to help students want to stay here…it is when they make connections outside of class,” Bolen said. “It helps students want to stay when they have developed a good, solid connection to the college.”

Integration is a key component in keeping retention numbers high and consistent. According to Thorius, programs have been designed specifically to involve freshmen. The LAS program actively compels students to assimilate into life at Simpson College and the Destination Leader program offers mentoring for first-year students.

Even Simpson’s Student Government Association offers monthly discussions at their constituent dinners to converse on issues relating to students and the campus.

“This year, I haven’t heard any huge issues, and my sister is a freshman,” said Junior Class President Andrew Reid.

But for some, Simpson isn’t the college experience they were looking for. In these instances, students can contact their adviser and discuss alternatives.

If the issue is that students don’t know what to do with their lives, contacting the Career Services Office is another option.

“We always have a conversation to see what the issues are and if there are any opportunities to look at,” Thorius said. “Sometimes that works and we’re able to get students to take another look, and then they decide to stay and give it another shot, and sometimes it doesn’t.”