Giving Compass’ Take:
• Students who drop out of college often face significant debt without reaping the benefits of a degree. Concerningly, colleges focus few resources on retaining and rerolling at-risk students.
• What resources can colleges offer beyond financial assistance to improve retention? How can colleges make the pathway back to school easier for dropouts?
• Learn how colleges can better advise students.
I’m working currently on a book about why people choose college. In the course of the research, I’ve listened to hundreds of students tell their story about how they made the college—or any postsecondary education—decision.
Many of the students I’ve listened to were, at one time or another, college dropouts. They left for a multitude of reasons, from family needs and responsibilities to medical and financial hardship, as well as a lack of purpose for being at college in the first place.
What’s striking is that, in almost every single story I listened to where the student dropped out, almost never did the college they were attending reach out to see how they might help them re-enroll.
In the language of a new report by ReUp Education, whose mission is to support students who have stopped out of college, these are “The Forgotten Students.”
Over a million students drop out of college each year. Only 43 colleges out of 1,669 reviewed in a study by the Educational Policy Institute had a graduation rate of over 90 percent. By contrast, 1,132 of them had a graduation rate below 59 percent. And despite the increasing amounts of energy and money spent on trying to retain students, the “Forgotten Students” report observes that they still continue to stop out—often for very rational and responsible reasons like supporting a loved one in a time of medical emergency, or because the bills to live have just become too high to pay.
The impact of this on students is well documented. Students who drop out rack up crippling debt without the benefits that come from the earning premium of having a degree.
Read the full article about college dropouts by Michael B. Horn at Christensen Institute.
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