Office of University Communications & Marketing

Will Being In The Band Help Keep You In College?
Aug. 27, 2014



Bryan Rachal, Public Affairs and Media Relations

FLORENCE, Ala. – A recent series of studies conducted by the University of North Alabama’s Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment looked into the retention rate of UNA’s band members. The findings provide an interesting assessment of the group.

The first study looked at the freshman cohort group in band retention and graduation rates.  This study compared full-time freshman who were not band members and freshman in the band from the fall of 2009 through the fall of 2012.  The study showed that in the fall of 2009 there were 1,101 students in the university’s freshmen cohort group.  Out of that group, 68 were on the band roster that fall semester. 

The one-year retention rate for the fall of 2009 was 65.6 percent; whereas, the retention rate for those in the band cohort was 82.4 percent.  That number remains relatively similar as you continue through the fall of 2012, indicating that this isn’t a passing fad.

Where the numbers seemed to differentiate the most were graduation rates for the university cohort vs the band cohort.  In 2009, the four-year graduation rate was much higher for non-band members than for band members, with 11.5 percent and 5.88 percent, respectively.  However, when you look at that same period of time and add an additional year of school to graduate, the rates are dramatically different. 

In the fall of 2009, the five-year graduation rate for non-band members was 19 percent; but for band members that number jumped to 39.71 percent.

Dr. Lloyd Jones, associate professor of music and UNA’s director of bands, said the retention rates weren’t that shocking.  “We’re not surprised about the retention.  Numerous studies have shown that kids in band tend to stay in school. Some reports I have seen even suggest that they get better grades during the fall marching band season, even though it’s busier, because band students tend to be good time managers and stay focused.”

Another interesting aspect is the fees band members pay vs. non-band members.   One of the reports tackled the issue by looking at the 2009 group of freshmen band cohort and the scholarships awarded to them, in addition to the tuition and fees paid each academic year.

For example, of the 68 freshmen that were involved in band in 2009, 32 continued the following academic year. Those 32 received just slightly more than $46,000 in band scholarships and were charged $213, 069 in tuition and fees (not including any additional non-band scholarships).  Twenty-four students did not continue on in band the following year, but did continue to be enrolled at UNA.  These 24 were not awarded any band scholarships and were charged a total of $141,922 in tuition and fees. 

One more interesting stat the report produced: When one looks at the total five-year cumulative amounts that the 2009 band cohort received in band scholarships, it equals $236,907.  Compare that to the total amount of a little more than $1.6 million they paid in tuition and fees, and it’s pretty staggering.  

“For every dollar the University invests in UNA Band members, they get six dollars in return. Additionally, the band students represent the University through performances throughout the region and beyond. There is no way to put a price on recruitment. It never stops and it’s always important,” said Jones. 

Download a full transcript of the report.