College Drop Out Numbers: Reasons and Solutions
- First-Generation College Students Students that come from families without degrees, also known as first-generation students, are more likely to drop out. Education Data reveals, “More than 30% of undergraduates are first-generation college students.” Nearly half of all dropouts had parents that didn’t finish college—40%. SOLUTIONS
- Financial Aid Concerns 60% of students don’t get any financial help from their parents. Stats from Education Data also report that more than a quarter of students and their parents don’t feel informed about financial options; they have financial aid or scholarship uncertainties. An August 2020 Tableau report from the National College Attainment Network reflected a staggering 98,924 fewer high school seniors completed FAFSAs compared to the class of 2019.
- Family and Financial Circumstances The cost of higher education has been increasing year over year—rapidly. Since 1978, Education Data reports university tuition has increased by 1,375%. For students that come from modest financial backgrounds, the college sticker price can be alarming. COVID-19 has also fueled family and financial concerns regarding college attainment. Students may feel the pressure to focus their efforts to caring for illnesses for themselves and/or their families. According to the Washington Post, “Students from families with incomes under $75,000 are nearly twice as likely to say they ’canceled all plans’ to take classes this fall...” SOLUTIONS While the first idea during a pandemic may be to hold off on college, Forbes reports “The importance of higher education is amplified during tough economic times. During the Great Recession of 2008, workers with college degrees and their communities suffered less and bounced back more quickly than those with high school diplomas.” Health concerns being top-of-mind for many Americans, those with college degrees are more likely to have health insurance compared to those with a high school degree. In addition, Education data reports that “College dropouts earn, on average, about $4 per hour less than high school graduates with a professional certification or vocational training.”
- Lack of Campus Connection, Falling Behind Academically Educational Data’s analysis reflected several reasons for dropping out of college related to lack of connections and interactions. Some students feel they don’t have campus friendships. Others are disconnected from university resources and offices that can help—academically and emotionally. More than a quarter of students polled by Educational Data claimed they dropped out of college because of an academic disqualification. Further, 13% of students felt they had a poor social fit and 4% attributed the college distance from home as a reason for dropping out. SOLUTIONS Connection is key to feeling like you belong. Get to know your academic advisor and schedule regular check ins. Consider living on campus to avoid long commutes. This provides more study time, and more chances for you to find new friends. University housing offices often report that students that live on campus get better grades. Use campus resources such as counseling or make time for yourself at the student gym. Join a social club or consider Greek life. Network with other students within your major.
- Time to College Completion While the idea, completion time for American students to obtain their degree is four years, the average, public-college student earns their college diploma in 4.6 years, according to Education Data. SOLUTIONS Don’t use college as a career exploration program. Research possible career ideas during high school. Investigating what you’ll be great at doing; connect with your high school counselor to find and take career counseling courses. Tools like the Future of Jobs report highlight jobs on the rise. Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas. See if you can shadow someone in your top career-field choices. Ensure you’ll graduate with a job where you’ll flourish—both financially and personally. Current college students can use student service offices such as their campus career center to find career fits too. Be sure to connect with this office your freshman year to avoid delaying your prospected graduation date. Have a four-year plan! The more time you spend in college, the more student loans you may have—it can cost you. Find a mentor (college advisor/faculty member) to help you stay on track.