Institutional Research

January 2021 - Continuation, Retention, and the Timing of Student Attrition, Pt. 1

As a part of the California State University, Chico State is currently involved in the Graduation Initiative 2025(opens in new window), which is a system-wide effort to improve graduation rates and eliminate equity gaps in degree completion. This effort is taking place alongside an increasingly urgent national conversation on the growing number of Americans who have attended some college, but who have not received a degree(opens in new window). While both of these issues have complex roots, they both rest upon a more central question: how can colleges and universities do a better job of keeping students enrolled and making good progress towards their educational goals? 

For this month’s By the Numbers report, we look at two commonly-used indicators of student persistence, continuation and retention. Continuation represents students who enrolled in a Fall term and also enrolled for a subsequent Spring term (E.G., Fall 2019 to Spring 2020); in contrast, retention represents students who were enrolled in a Fall term and also enrolled for a subsequent Fall term (E.G., Fall 2019 to Fall 2020). We look at how the contrasts between these two indicators can provide useful empirical insights on when, and perhaps why, students leave college before degree completion.

CSU, Chico By the Numbers

Between Fall 2010 and Fall 2015:

41% of total attrition among First-Time Freshmen occurred after their first year of study.


Of the First-Time Freshman who left after the 2019-20 Academic Year:

32% left at end of Fall term; 68% left at end of Spring term


Read a two-page report (PDF) that looks at the timing of attrition among First-Time Freshmen in greater detail.

View additional data(opens in new window) on graduation and retention rates for First-Time Freshmen and Transfer students at CSU, Chico.

Browse the results (PDF) of a topical module from the 2020 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which focuses on the experiences of first-year students at CSU, Chico.