Res Life fights to keep students in school

While retention rates vary from school to school, numbers have jumped slightly within the past several years from 67.0 percent in 2003 to 70.9 percent in 2010, according to UNA’s website.

UNA’s reports record freshman classes having between 900 to 1,000 students or more. These reports, however, also cite that these numbers typically drop by about 200 to 300 students between freshman and sophomore years.

Assistant Director for Success Initiatives Jennifer Ballard had much to say about these retention rates.

“The first six weeks (of the freshman year) are the most critical,” Ballard said.

Residence Life’s goal is to build a foundation from which students can grow and succeed at UNA.  Residence Life is doing more to keep students informed and involved through things such as Play Fair, Pride Week and the FOCUS community located in Rivers Hall, Ballard said.

Play Fair was an event for freshmen their first night on campus to help get everyone acquainted with each other.  Pride Week was filled with events for everyone, starting with ice cream socials and ending with Foamapalooza, a dance party backgrounded with foam.

Both of these events took place the first week that freshmen were on campus.  Ballard said she feels that each event was very successful in involving the students and helping them to inform them on all of the different organizations on campus.

Though Residence Life is striving to enhance the first-year experience, numbers still drop between freshmen and sophomore years, Ballard said.

Ballard said she believes this is because many students do not often understand the demands of college work, or they come to UNA to knock out their core classes before transferring to other schools to pursue professional programs, such as medical, nursing or law school.

According to UNA’s website, the latter reason seems to be the most common. Most students tend to transfer from UNA rather than just drop out of college altogether.

For those students who do not fully realize the demands of college academics, Residence Life has devised the FOCUS community in Rivers Hall. This program includes many perks such as study sessions and access to the writing center on Mondays and Thursdays.

“The number one way to ensure your stay is to make a connection and stay involved,” Ballard said.

Whether that be through Greek life, academics, or RSOs, it is imperative to find a niche within the college community, Ballard said.

All of these statistics can be found on the university website,