Why College Students Aren’t Graduating

More information on the college drop-out crisis comes from a study just published by Complete College America: “Time is the Enemy: The surprising truth about why today’s college students aren’t graduating… And What Needs to Change.” Based on data from 33 states (including Virginia), the study finds that 75% of college students are juggling school, jobs and sometimes family, and that part-time students rarely graduate. On average, students are taking too many credits and taking longer than necessary to complete. And, for the most part, remediation courses are “broken.” They do not work.

Peter Blake, interim executive director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, put a positive spin on the data for the Times-Dispatch:

Virginia’s on-time graduation rate for a four-year degree was second among the 33 states, and the state ranked first for its six-year graduation rate. The state also did well with underrepresented populations in higher education. … Virginia was first in the six-year graduation rate for full-time Hispanic students, and second for both African-American students and for recipients of Pell Grants, which aid those with the most need.

View the state-by-state data, including Virginia’s, here.

While the Old Dominion may fare well by some measures, the trend lines are much the same as for other states. If there’s one easily digested bottom line from the study, it’s this: State systems of higher education need to focus less on enrollment and more on degree completions. At present, colleges and universities are rewarded for the number of students signed up for classes, not the number who graduate – much less the number who graduate on time. The result is excess public support for higher education and years (and money) wasted by the students. Virginia is no exception. The time for change is now!


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5 responses to “Why College Students Aren’t Graduating”

  1. my take is a bit different. more and more kids see college as a “must”… and the proof of that is the reason given why SAT scores have declined big time…i.e. more kids who didn’t use to aspire to college – now are.

    and of course – the govt will pay your way …with subsidized loans that they’ll even forgive if you play your cards right…

    and of schools – pretty much abandon kids who are not set up to go to college.
    yeah they have non-college tracks but they’re not at all effective in preparing the kids for the 21st century technical jobs .. that they’ll have to compete for – and the kids (and their parents) know that…

    the non-college track in K-12 is a dead-end curricula.. they all but shout it.

    we talk about “entitlements” and how many don’t pay Federal Taxes but the bitter truth is that we also have a middle class that is thoroughly used to sucking on the govt teat…

    we tax people to the tune of $10,000 per kid per year and we “produce” 1/3 of them with 21st century “proficiency” in reading, writing, math and science and that would be the 1/3 whose parents push them towards college..

    If you are a kid and you don’t have a parent pushing you towards college – you are screwed…. blued …and tatooed.

  2. geeze.. taking the SAT with a fake ID ? who knew?

    maybe THAT’s the reason we’ve got folks not graduating… eh?

    what’s going on .. is that everybody and their dog essentially knows how to game the system.. some are more “fearless” than others..

  3. By now we should figure out that whatever we spend on schools and teachers is not working, and parents are not much help either.

    At the end of the day it is the kids who have to do the learning, and they are the ones left out of the whole process of how do we teach them.

    We should give up and just pay the kids. The better you do the more money you get.

    All we have to do is measure how they do. And not by some damn standard test, certainly nothing administered by the schools. My suggestion woulod be a national multiplayer Jeopardy game, in which the opponent is WATSON.

    The higher you get in the elimination the more money you get. Make the finals a reality show like dancing with the stars or something.

    Teachers would get a percentage of what their students win.

  4. How do you know what counts for graduating on time? It took me six or seven years, but I graduated with zero debt.

  5. so why do 30 other countries best us and not do what you say we should?

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