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Freshman retention continues to rise

Freshman enrollment rose nearly 30 percent over the last five years, yet despite the increase in numbers, University officials say freshman retention is at an all-time high.

According to numbers from the Office of Institutional Research, a record 76 percent of freshmen enrolled in the fall 2002 semester have continued their studies at UNM.

Peter White, dean of University College, said in a University news release the retention success is due to special programs designed to make the transition easier.

"The trend line that shows we are retaining a larger number of freshmen than ever has two driving forces," White said. "We are moving students into small classes through the Freshman Learning Communities, and working them harder."

The Freshman Learning Communities, along with Freshman Interest Groups and Living and Learning Communities, aid freshmen by putting them in smaller group settings with other students who may share their interests.

The learning communities combine classes from different disciplines with faculty members who coordinate the curriculum. Class enrollment is limited to 22 students.

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"These intensive efforts to bring students with similar interests together is having a positive effect," White said. "Students have an opportunity to find friends and interact more directly with faculty. These smaller groups thrust them directly into a more intense learning environment, and the students have to work harder. It isn't just harder work, it's a different kind of work. The students are engaged and are participating in the class. They are active learners and not just passive receivers of information."

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