More Students Staying at Arkansas Colleges

JONESBORO, AR -- In the past when students finished their first year or so at an Arkansas college many would transfer ''up'' to a bigger school in a different state.

"I came from a junior college originally so this is an absolutely wonderful experience," said freshman Heather Tilley.

Arkansas State University is seeing more and more students come back to school after their freshman year.

Jill Simons with the Wilson Advising Center at ASU told us knowing they are succeeding with students makes them feel like they're accomplishing what they've set out to do.

"We are thrilled any time we see higher retention rates or as we call them "success" rates of our students," said Simons.

One area they are working very hard to succeed with are the freshman students.

"We know if a student comes that is academically well prepared or if it looks like they're unprepared, both sides of the students have trouble their first year," said Simons.

According to statistics provided by ASU, in the 2004 school year 65.4% of the freshmen came back the next year.  In 2005 that rose to 71.9%, which is a 6.4% difference.

"Your connection to your academic department is huge and we want to make sure that students are in with their academic advisors," said Simons.

Classes they offer like the freshman experience class also help students get to know the campus, the school, and other students better.

"It's a very traditional southern school and the students feel right at home when they get here," said Simons.

And as for Heather Tilley, will she stay at this Arkansas college?

"Oh heck yes.  I'm an art major and they have a great art program.  I look forward to all of the five years I have here," said Tilley.>

retention rates have been climbing in Arkansas for both two and four year schools.