Colleges spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to recruit the best students to their campuses each year. But when students enroll, oftentimes they are unhappy with their choice and transfer to a more desirous college at the end of their freshman year. For many, looking at a college’s freshman retention rate – the percentage of freshmen who choose to re-enroll for sophomore year – can be a very telling sign, and give deep insights into the education and culture of the school, as well as the level of customer satisfaction. Nationally, only 69% of freshmen return to their college for sophomore year.
This past fall, nearly 90% of Christendom freshmen chose to return for sophomore year — a remarkable statistic in modern academia, putting Christendom in the top 25% of liberal arts colleges in the nation for satisfaction and retention rates. In a time when higher education offerings are varying so much – in person, virtual, half and half – Christendom students are pleased with the college’s approved choice to offer an in-person educational experience this year.
According to sophomore Dylan Aiello, a native of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, the idea of not returning to Christendom after the campus closed in mid-March 2020 due to COVID-19 did not even enter his mind.
“I wanted to return to Christendom after my freshman year because I knew it was a place at which I could thrive,” says Aiello. “After speaking to several friends at home, I believe that no college offers such personal and thoughtful career advice to students as Christendom does. I would not want to be anywhere else.”
Christendom’s commitment to personalized attention, both in and outside the classroom, has been a deciding factor for many students since its founding in 1977. With an ideal number of students, faculty and staff can more easily devote more time to helping students than would be possible at most other colleges.
That community life was the prime influencer in sophomore Maggie Black’s return to campus after her freshman year. Black, who hails from Cheyenne, Wyoming, did not have many strong Catholic friends at home growing up and was impressed with the quality of students who attend Christendom.
“I truly found the community I want to be connected with for the rest of my life,” says Black. “Connecting with peers who share my values was an important instigating factor for me to continue to grow my faith.”
Sophomore Michelle Kelly returned this year after spending the summer in her home country of Ireland. She had learned of Christendom during the college’s St. Columcille Institute at the end of her junior year of high school and had been longing for an authentic Catholic education, but could not find one in Ireland.
“If I moved all the way here for Christendom, that should be enough to convince you of Christendom College’s worth,” says Kelly. “My freshman year was a non-stop rollercoaster of academics, talks, creating friendships, growing in my faith, and taking advantage of all the events and opportunities Christendom has to offer. The time that I spent here was enough to convince me how truly valuable the Christendom experience is for shaping me as a person and for preparing me to go out and ‘restore all things in Christ.’”
The college’s overall freshmen retention rate has been steadily increasing in recent years – 89% this past year – thanks to a concerted effort by the college’s administration and faculty. Students are given all the academic support they need to succeed, as well as top-notch career advice, mental health counseling, spiritual direction, financial aid and scholarships, and so much more. In addition, with many colleges offering only online or hybrid-learning experiences this year, Christendom’s approved reopening and operating procedures have been a breath of fresh air for its students and visitors.
“Our goal at Christendom is not simply to treat our students as financial contributors or future alumni donors, but to show them that we care about them as individuals, created by God for eternal life with Him,” says vice president for enrollment and student success Tom McFadden. “Our personalized approach is one of a kind, and I think the students – and their families – are reaping the benefits and are committed to staying the course for four years.”
Other Newman Guide-recommended schools have a wide range of freshman retention rates, including Benedictine College at 84%, Thomas Aquinas College at 94%, Belmont Abbey College at 62%, Catholic University of America at 88%, Ave Maria University at 74%, Franciscan University of Steubenville at 88%, and the University of Dallas at 85%. (Stats from IPEDS: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/)
For more information on how to apply to Christendom, please visit christendom.edu/apply.