Bar Chart of Freshman Retention at 37 Colleges in Massachusetts

Freshman Retention: How Does Your College Rate?

The percentage of college freshmen who re-enroll for their sophomore year is an excellent indicator of the quality of the college.  From a parent's perspective, you want to avoid colleges with low retention rates.  As a college administrator, increasing retention is a sure way to increase tuition revenue.  Retention varies greatly among colleges as the chart below shows with the 37 private colleges in Massachusetts ranging between 52% and 98%.  The data were compiled by Shorelight Education.

Retention Rates at Small Mass Colleges

A stacked bar chart works well to display retention data by college.  I used a few tricks to make the chart more informative:

  • Slanted bar labels allows you to easily read the chart, even though there are 37 bars (colleges)
  • Axis break shortens each bar, focusing the reader on differences across the colleges
  • Remove the Y axis as it didn't add any important data to the chart and provided more room for each bar
  • Color the colleges with high retention and low retention and bold their names to highlight good and poor performance
  • Add an average line to indicate the middle of the retention distribution and allow for comparing each college to the average.

Here is the chart in SlideShare to download and edit using Mekko Graphics: