The National Center for Education Statistics recently released findings of a study that followed the attainment and persistence rates of a nationally representative sample of 19,000 American students, following them over the past six years.
The report found that, within six years of enrollment:
- 35 percent of students had not received any type of degree and were no longer enrolled at any institution
- 46 percent of students who initially enrolled in two-year institutions did not receive any type of degree and were no longer enrolled at any institution
- 50 percent of students who enrolled in a four-year college did not attain a degree from that college
These statistics show that there is a significant amount of students who enter college and do not obtain a degree. What can be done to assure that you don’t become one of those dropout statistics?
1. Research colleges and majors before applying — it’s just plain smart to do the research and know why and where you want to go to college. Refine your list of choices to include the colleges that offer the academic program that suits your interests and the college setting and faculty that you feel most comfortable with and could see yourself flourishing in that environment.
2. Study the cost of attendance and know your financial aid options — Before you choose a college, make sure you can pay for it and that you’re comfortable with repaying any loans you secure to finance it. Verify that your scholarships will be available for the course of your enrollment and what requirements need to be met to keep them. Do some calculations that show you the true cost of attendance using college cost calculators.
3. Find the “perfect fit” college — if you feel like you fit at the college you are attending, you will be more likely to stay and complete your degree. That perfect fit means that you want to be there and the college values you and wants you there as well.
4. Be invested in the process — if college is your goal, you need to be invested in the process. Contribute to the education financially and you will be more likely to stay invested and complete the process. Going just for the sake of going or because you think it’s what you are supposed to do will not keep you there.
5. Be realistic about obstacles and get help if necessary — College, like life, will have its own set of obstacles. When you encounter them, get help. Seek advice from a mentor or another student. Get tutoring if you find you’re struggling with your classes. Speak with a professor if you need clarification or assistance on projects. Use your RA (Resident Assistant) to help resolve roommate conflicts.
Before you make such a large investment, the wise consumer will do the research and be realistic about what is required to finance the education, while admitting that you will face obstacles along the way.