The Pandemic’s Effect on Retention Rates at CUNY Hunter College

CUNY Hunter College dropped 4.8% in retention rates from 2017 to 2018, according to data from the CUNY Office of Institutional Research. 

Enrollment at Hunter rose from 23,193 in 2019 to 24,052 in 2020, according to a financial report from the University Budget Office.

Additional CUNY data collected from 1996 to 2018 shows that Hunter College had an overall average retention rate of about 81%. 

Stephanie Liu, a freshman at Hunter, said she doesn’t want to transfer out of the college in the fall of 2021 because she feels “content.” 

Liu said she started taking classes at Hunter while she was a senior at Manhattan Hunter Science High School. During that time, she familiarized herself with the college.

“I got used to commuting from my home to the campus,” she said. “I just thought it would be easiest to continue going there. “

Currently, except for school being online, Liu said her time at the college as a freshman dramatically differs from what she experienced as a high school senior.

“[Being online] wasn’t that new to me, other than just not being able to talk to my old classmates about the classes, because now they’re in different schools,” she said. ” And I’ve not really made a lot of friends and interests, [only] one [friend] so far. It just feels kind of, I don’t know, a little bit disappointing for a first year of college.”

Liu said that she personally doesn’t know anyone who has transferred out of the school during the pandemic. 

She also said that she felt safe enough to return to Hunter in the fall after getting the vaccine, but said that the school would have to make certain accommodations in order for things to be safer overall.

“I don’t think it would be safe if it was at full capacity, like normal before COVID,” she said. 

Liu said spacing out students and having smaller classes might make her feel more comfortable.

“I remember back in the north building whenever I had my chem class, the elevators were always really cramped and crowded, and I don’t think that would be appropriate if it were in [person in] the fall,” she said.

According to a statement released by CUNY, in order to attend in-person class next fall, students must be vaccinated. 

“With this in mind, [Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez] continue[s] to strongly encourage every member of our CUNY familia to get vaccinated ‘as soon as they are able,’” the statement said.

Around 12 percent of college students are either unsure about or are not planning on obtaining the vaccine, according to data provided by College Finance

According to a social media post from CUNY, students who choose not to get vaccinated will have the option of taking online courses.

“Further, students will be able to apply for an exemption to the vaccination requirement for medical or religious reasons,” said CUNY via Instagram.