While finances are often cited as the number one reason students don't attend college, a more pervasive problem is college dropout rates. Financial worries are still a primary reason students drop out after a year or two of higher education, but there are many other causes that are easier to address. Improving dropout rates will have a cyclical affect, helping promote a stronger future of the students that obtain degrees, and improved opportunities for them and their future children as well.
According to The New York Times, a mere 53 percent of students that enroll in college finish their degree programs – the second worst among a poll of 23 developed nations by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Financial woes cannot be the only cause of such a low success rate, meaning there are other causes at work. Furthermore, 30 percent of freshmen don't continue on into their second year, while more students are dropping out in their final years of college as well. In 2011, 78 percent of college attendees failed to get a diploma after six years of higher education.
Academically unprepared – One of the main reasons that students drop out of college is that they are unprepared for the demands of an undergraduate degree program. These students find themselves burning out quickly, unable to balance their classwork with the new social lives they find themselves thrust into. This is in part caused by poor preparedness skills learning in high school. While students find themselves learning the technical knowledge needed for college, they don't learn the studying and life skills for college that will help them adapt to being responsible for getting to class and studying on their own.
Isolation – Part of college is the social experience students gain to bring them into adulthood. However, many students are faced with a sudden sense of isolation when they transition from high school to college, with no friends and none of the social relationships they have spent the last 15 or 16 years building. This sense of isolation can become overwhelming for students that aren't taught the self-confidence needed to enter brand new social situations.
Indecisiveness – One problem that many students face during their first year in college is being unsure what major to choose, or selecting the wrong one then not having the sense of responsibility to change it and start over. This indecisiveness can be extremely limiting, causing them to flounder and drop out rather than make the necessary changes to succeed. This can be addressed by helping students learn to own the decision they make and alter outcomes by not being afraid to admit they have made mistakes.
Lack of guidance – Many of today's graduating high school students feel they have had very little guidance moving forward, and college is owned by self-starting students who are able to make decisions on their own. As such, it is important to help students develop a sense of ownership in their actions and decisions that will help them overcome any lack of guidance they might have received in order to make smarter, more lasting decisions on their own. This drive will also address worries about making the wrong choices that can hold students back from success.
Lack of responsibility – Of course, having a lack of a sense of responsibility for their own actions can cause students to drop out as well. Students who party or enjoy their freedom from their families too much will have poor attendance and find an unbalanced work/social life that will result in poor grades and even poorer self esteem in terms of academics.
By promoting the ownership mentality and teaching students to take responsibility for their actions before they enter college, we can turn around college drop out rates and start making a difference in today's students early on.