Freshman midterm grades were up

Maria Nann

Class of 2012 best KSU’s seen in years, but results may not equal retention

This year’s freshman class has transferred high academic performance from high school to college.

The class, which had an overall average ACT score of 21.94, – up from 21.73 in 2007- had a 4 percent increase in midterm GPAs this year. The percentage of students who earned a 2.0 or higher at this year’s midterm was 64 percent, up from last year’s 60 percent.

More than 80 percent of students who had at least a 3.0 high school GPA scored a 2.0 or higher on midterms this year.

Provost Robert Frank said this rise in grades means both Kent State and its students are performing well.

“It’s a great sign,” he said. “It’s very good for us – good for our students, good for the university.”

Midterms are the first indication of whether students will continue their education, said Wayne Schneider, director of research, planning and institutional effectiveness.

However, Schnei-der added, higher midterm GPAs do not necessarily guarantee increased retention rates for the university, although both have been climbing overall in the past decade.

According to a 2008 RPIE midterm GPA report, the percentage of freshmen who scored a 2.0 or higher on midterms jumped from 58 in 2004, to 66 in 2005. Regardless of this high increase, however, retention that year dropped by more than half a percentage point.

Eboni Pringle, assistant director of Student Success and First Year Experience, said there are multiple reasons why students would or would not return after their first year – all outside of grades.

“I think we’re still trying to figure out why there isn’t a correlation,” she said. “It could be demands from the outside, responsibilities to families, jobs. It could just be the fit.”

Pringle said she recently met with a student who decided to cease his education at Kent State because what he really wanted to do didn’t require a four-year degree.

“It could be that students are now becoming more focused in what they’re interested in, and they could be looking for major institutions outside of what we do here at Kent,” she said.

Pringle added that the university is still trying to figure out why students don’t return after freshman year.

“All institutions have students who don’t persist, and a lot of it can’t be narrowed down to one factor or another, because a lot of the time, students are still trying to figure out those factors for themselves,” she said.

Schneider said the economy could have a significant and unpredictable impact on Kent State’s enrollment and retention next year.

Pringle attributed this year’s freshman success to their academic records, although she added that the university has been doing a lot to help students.

“We know a lot of what happens with students’ grades is based on what they bring with them,” she said. “If they’re coming in with higher credentials, their grades are going to reflect that. I also think that as an institution, we are all paying attention to what their needs are, so we are providing information and support.

“Our hope is we’re giving the students that information they need.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].