Why students transfer...according to students

BY HANNAH BROADBENT | The Statesman It’s no secret that UMD’s retention rate is low.  According to a recent survey done by UMD, as well as one by U.S. News and World Report at UMD, that rate is currently sitting at only 76 percent.

Retention rates refer to the number of students that will stay after their freshman year. At UMD, 35 percent of freshman are expected to leave. To add to the problem, UMD’s enrollment is also the lowest it has been in 10 years with incoming students at a little over 2,000.

Administration has addressed these problems, especially retention, and has started making moves toward a solution. They have extended their campus climate survey, emphasized their Goal 2 strategy and held town hall meetings where administration gathered to brainstorm answers.

In a town hall meeting held the second week of November, Chancellor Black stated that students leave UMD for a variety of reasons, understanding that occasionally those reasons are because they are just not ready for college.


Actual reasons for leaving

Freshman Kayla Kleven, originally from Fargo, North Dakota, is transferring to North Dakota State University (NDSU) for the spring semester. It’s not necessarily because of the school, but because of Duluth.

“Every time I visited I was like ‘oh I love it here, it’s awesome’,” Kleven said. “It was this shock of living here, it’s totally different.”

One thing she didn’t expect was the feeling of being trapped in Duluth, which is only intensified by the snow. Kleven said she has been considering transferring for a while and has been talking to NDSU the whole time. Over fall break she decided to visit NDSU.

“I had a weird feeling (at the beginning of the year), but I said I wasn’t going to make a decision then, ” Kleven said. “I made the decision a two or three weeks ago.”

She soon learned that NDSU has a communication management major. At UMD Kleven had decided she would settle on a communication major, but she wanted business her degree as well.

“It’s really beautiful here and I like the school, I’m just excited to be back in Fargo,” Kleven said. “And to feel not trapped.”

Kleven said she knows five other freshmen that are leaving after this semester as well, and most of them are going to Fargo and UND. While some students leave because UMD isn’t for them, some are leaving college all together.

“School was always just a means to an end. (It’s) the fact that I needed a piece of paper and this was the way to get it,” junior Cody Cavallin said.

Cavallin plans to leave UMD for a work opportunity in the near future.

“I’m three years through an engineering program. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to put in the work, school was just never something I was passionate about,” Cavallin said.

He also said that the “fiasco” in the engineering department made it easier to leave. The changes in the department and the high numbers of students trying to get into the program made it harder to get into classes he needed.


UMD students contribute to the problem

Several UMD students have seen first hand why their friends leave and have their own ideas about possible ways to tackle the retention problem.

“Freshmen leave because they feel uncomfortable,” sophomore Idun Rasmussen said. “Sophomores, juniors and seniors leave because the programs aren’t here.”

Junior Alex Passafaro said that UMD needs to give itself an edge.

“What if we made our higher-up administration more open to actual student involvement versus an open forum,” Passafaro said.

Passafaro is aware that the college values student involvement and hold student panels, but he questions their effectiveness.

“Maybe UMD’s thing is that we could say we legitimately have student involvement, where the Twin Cities is a huge place, so who knows how strong their student involvement is down there,” Passafaro said.

Senior Sarah Stark is on the same page as Passafaro in saying there should be more awareness for students to get involved, because she knows there isn’t a lack of ways to get involved.

“I think that we do a pretty good job,” Stark said. “There’s two different type of people, ones that are going to seek stuff like that out and ones that aren’t.”

Student body president Nathan Ernst is curious to see how many students actually plan on staying at UMD.

“I feel like a lot of students use UMD as a catalyst to get into the Twin Cities,” Ernst said. “I think one thing we want to look into at SA (are) the reasons students are leaving.”

Ernst said he knows countless freshman, including ones from the seminar class he’s a teaching assistant for and his rockies from Bulldog Welcome Week, who already knew they were going to transfer before they even got here.

“As far as strategies to retain students, I wish I had a good answer for you,” Ernst said.


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