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First-year retention rates

More students returned to UNM as sophomores this year than ever before, a school official said.

The first-year freshman retention rate is 76.6 percent this year, up about 1 percent from last year, Vice Provost Peter White said.

The Hispanic freshman retention rate is 76.8 percent, an increase of more than 3 percent, he said.

"They are the highest they've ever been. We've had a steady increase," he said. "Since about the year 2000, we've been going up."

White said the University has many programs that help students stay in school, including the ethnic centers and freshman learning communities.

"We're constantly working on things to increase the retention rates," he said. "The biggest factor is, this last year, 75 percent of freshmen earned the Lottery Scholarship, and retention is very closely tied to achievement of the Lottery Scholarship."

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White said most students who drop out after freshman year do so because they don't have money to pay for school.

"If they earn the Lottery Scholarship, they have the money and the motivation to go to school," he said. "If a student has the Lottery Scholarship for seven semesters, they have a 95 percent chance of graduating."

The six-year graduation rate is about 43 percent.

White said the increase in freshman retention rates is a sign graduation rates will improve.

"There is a parallel correlation with graduation rates," he said. "We will see the graduation rates go up as a result."

Student Nate Harding, a sophomore, said it was easy for him to come back for his third semester because he had been out of school for a while before coming to UNM.

Harding said the time off helped him prepare for college.

He said the toughest thing about staying in school is balancing work and his studies.

"It's kind of a daily struggle to get to work every day," he said.

Student Jared Adams, a sophomore, said it was hard to adjust his sleeping and studying habits to college's requirements.

Adams said UNM can try to keep students coming back, but ultimately, students have to be motivated to do the work.

"It's mostly up to the individual person," he said. "(The University) can only do so much for that person."

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