Campus News

UGA’s retention and completion rates remain strong

From left, incoming freshman Maris Wright talks with orientation leader Vidhi Patel and fellow freshman Carson Whiee as they walk together to their small group time at new student orientation in the Tate Student Center. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Newly data shows the percentage of first-time freshmen who continue at UGA their second year rose to 94.6%

The University of Georgia’s first-year retention rate rose to nearly 95% this year, reflecting several ongoing efforts to improve the academic environment and support students.

Newly released data show the percentage of first-time freshmen who continue at UGA their second year rose to 94.6%, compared to 94.3% the year before. The university’s six-year completion rate held steady at 88%, matching the record high set last year. In addition, the four-year completion rate shows nearly three-quarters of UGA students graduate within four years.

On each metric, UGA continues to outpace its peers. According to the most recently available data, the average retention rate at UGA’s peer institutions is 91%, while the average six-year completion rate is 80%.

A commitment to academic excellence

Over the past decade, UGA has taken many steps to help students thrive on campus. Under its ongoing Active Learning Initiative, the university is elevating instruction and student engagement through classroom renovations, faculty training and student programming. Several faculty hiring initiatives have provided students access to world-class scholars in classrooms and research laboratories. To give students more personalized guidance and support, the university increased its staff of academic advisors.

Undergraduate students take part in a discussion group as part of an active learning exercise in an introduction to philosophy class.(Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

The university also has expanded its tutoring, mentorship and peer-learning programs to further support students’ academic success. UGA’s Division of Academic Enhancement offers free tutoring in nearly 300 undergraduate courses plus writing support and standardized test preparation. The new Connect and Complete program, launched in spring 2023, assists students who are experiencing academic difficulties and those at risk of early withdrawal. Through Connect and Complete, UGA staff use data and early alert systems to identify these students and initiate proactive support centered around their unique circumstances.

“UGA is very intentional in using data to inform student success,” said Marisa Anne Pagnattaro, vice president for instruction and senior vice provost for academic planning. “We’ve increased our focus on writing and have an eye towards pedagogical innovation. We’re constantly striving to improve classes at UGA and give students the best experience possible.”

Holistic and proactive support for students

The university’s efforts to further strengthen retention and completion rates include Welcome UGA, a campus-wide initiative that celebrates incoming and returning students, and a well-being initiative, launched last year with $1 million in private funds, that provides students a variety of clinical and nonclinical resources to improve mental health and well-being.

The Department of Student Transitions in the Division of Student Affairs provides dozens of programs and opportunities to inform students of campus resources, connect them with peers and faculty, and empower them to feel more confident as they navigate campus and college life.

Career consultant Laetitia Adelson, center, meets with undergraduate students Destiny Hartwell, left, and Ayiesha Fajobi outside the Journalism Building in the Schnitzer Family Media Lawn. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

UGA students’ experience on campus prepares them for continued success after graduation. According to career outcomes data released by the UGA Career Center, 96% of graduates in the class of 2022 were employed or continuing their education within six months of graduation.

This year marks UGA’s 11th consecutive year with a career outcomes rate of 90% or higher. The career outcomes rate of the previous seven graduating classes consistently has been 8% to 11% higher than the national career outcomes rate, as published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

UGA enrollment reaches record high

The University of Georgia’s enrollment reached an all-time high of 41,615 students this fall.

Enrollment in UGA’s undergraduate, graduate and professional programs increased by 1,008 students over fall semester 2022, according to official student census data from UGA’s Office of Institutional Research. The new enrollment total includes students from 115 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and 156 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

Incoming students in the Class of 2026 formed the “power G” under the Sanford Stadium lights and between the hedges for Freshman Welcome. (Peter Frey/UGA)

The growing enrollment comes at a time when gaining admission to UGA is becoming increasingly competitive. This fall, UGA welcomed one of the most academically qualified first-year classes in its history, a group of 6,200 students selected from a record pool of more than 43,500 applicants.

“There are many reasons excellent students choose the University of Georgia, including our world-class faculty, state-of-the-art facilities and deep network of student support,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Investments in these areas will continue to enhance UGA’s well-earned reputation as one of the nation’s top public universities.”