Why freshmen retention rates matter By Lynn O’Shaughnessy, When you are evaluating colleges, here’s a question that you’ve gotta ask: How happy are the freshmen? Of course, no college or university is going to admit that its freshmen are miserable. Relying on a school’s candor for the answer, however, isn’t necessary. All you’ll need is a handy statistic called the freshman retention rate. Read this post and you’ll know how to find the freshman retention rate for any school in the country in less than 60 seconds. Make that 25 seconds. That’s how long is just took me to locate Harvard University’s freshman retention rate. It’s 96 percent. Why does the freshmen retention rate matter? It provides a big clue on whether freshmen thrive on a particular campus. You don’t want to spend the time, money and psychic energy to get your child situated at a school only to watch the grand adventure fail. ACT, which is the college testing service, compiled a report that provides average freshman retention rates for 2008. Here is a sampling: Public community colleges: 53.7%Private liberal arts colleges: 69.6Public research universities: 72.9%Private universities: 80.4%National average for all schools: 65.7% But what about stats for individual schools? You can find freshman retention rates by school at the federal College Navigator. Type in any institution and you’ll get a link that provides the statistic. Happy hunting.