Photo by Nyaharika Rai
Southern Miss students are more likely to drop out according to national averages. Southern Miss New Student and Retention Programs director Katie McBride said financial, academic and adjustment issues are contributing factors.
According to statistics provided by the student retention program at Southern Miss, the average
retention rate for students is about 72%, which is eight points below the national average.
Retention rate refers to the number of students who come back for another year of college.
An article published by US News reveals Columbia University has the highest percentages, with average retention rates at 99%.
When compared to other universities in Mississippi, though, Southern Miss’ percentage seems
low. The University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University had averages of 85 and 80%
McBride said the most significant reason freshmen might end up dropping out is because of financial and academic difficulty.
“College is really expensive, and even with federal aid, most students have to pay out of pocket,” McBride said. “Coming into college, some students are more aware of this than others, and then there are those who get to the end of their first semester or first year and realize they don’t have the money to continue.”
Senior public relations major Asia Montgomery said she believes adjusting to college life is a
“It’s hard to get adjusted, and they may not feel like college is for them,” Montgomery said.
“You’re on your own to figure things out.”
Southern Miss graduate and communications major Bailey Alford recalled how she felt lost when she first arrived at Southern Miss.
“When I first came here, I had no idea what I was doing, and I felt extremely lost. But I was in
the Lucky Day Scholarship Program, and they had mentors to help us out,” Alford said.
The NSRP provides multiple resources to help students, both new and returning, get through college, according to McBride. One of these sources is TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded group that offers tutoring and computer labs to those struggling.
“I feel Southern Miss could do more to reach out to students as soon as they get here,”
Montgomery said. “I know they already do a good job through things like Golden Eagle Welcome Week, which is where freshmen can come and learn about where they’re going out be
for the next four years.”
Alford said new students should take their time and think about what they’re doing whileMontgomery said consulting with the financial aid office will help freshmen learn how to keep track of how much left they owe.
“There’s a lot of transition that comes with becoming a college student. Consulting the programs, we offer will help them out in the long run,” McBride said.