Student Success

Who Leads the Rankings in College Football Retention Ratings?

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Much of the excitement this college football season has surrounded the new Division 1 College Football Rankings and playoff system. Fans will be arguing over Thanksgiving dinner about which four teams will compete for a national title at the end of the season. In the Southeast, they’ll be campaigning for the SEC to get the bids it deserves; in the Midwest, they’ll be rooting for Ohio State to get back into the top four; and in Texas, they’ll be wondering if Baylor or TCU will get a shot. And then, once everything is set on December 7th, we’ll still have another month of debate.

At Eduventures, while we are avid college football fans, we get even more excited about the off-the-field performance of these schools. Rather than focus on who’s on top of the College Football Top 25, we thought it might be more interesting to see how the Top 25 list might change if we were to rank these schools based instead on their student retention performance.

So we turned to The Eduventures Retention Ratings System to create our own Top 25 list. Our ratings score each institution’s actual retention rate against a statistically predicted metric that estimates how it should perform based on academic, social, environmental, and financial indicators. We then ranked Division 1 College Football institutions based on the difference between their predicted and actual retention rates to identify the Eduventures Top 25.

First, we looked at the percentage of institutions that over-performed or performed as expected in each top-performing conference. The AAC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC demonstrated the most impressive performance for retention, as more than 80% of the institutions in these conferences have performed at least as well as predicted by our retention rating system. On the other end of the field, more than 60% of the institutions in the Mountain West, SEC, CUSA, Big 12, and MAC have performed worse than our rating system predicted. While the SEC may be widely considered the strongest conference in college football, it is one of the weaker conferences when it comes to retention.

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Next, we ranked the Eduventures Top 25 Retention Performers using our retention ratings system and, as you’ll see, the list looks very different from the College Football Top 25. Only six institutions—Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Texas A&M, USC, and UCLA—outperformed competitors both on and off the field, making a strong showing in both Top 25 rankings.

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So if you find yourself headed into Thanksgiving dinner with a team that is not faring so well this season, just remember, there is more than what happens on the field.

If you’re interested in how your institution fares in our Retention Rating System, please contact Eduventures Senior Analyst, Max Woolf.

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