Why Are So Many Not Graduating?

The low percentage of students who graduate from college has been a concern for many years. Unfortunately, new data reveals that the trends are going in the wrong direction.

Here is a short excerpt from an article in Inside Higher Ed, titled, “College Completion Rates Decline More Rapidly:”

“Fewer students are earning a college credential within six years of first enrolling in college, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The nonprofit clearinghouse is able to track 96 percent of students nationwide. It found an overall national completion rate of 52.9 percent for students who enrolled in the fall of 2009. That rate was down 2.1 percentage points from that of the previous year’s cohort of students, according to the clearinghouse, and the rate of decline is accelerating.

“The declines were across the board, the report found. Completion rates sagged for students regardless of their age, whether or not they attended college full-time or not, and across the various sectors of higher education.“

Wow. And while it is important to note that this statistic is skewed a bit since it does not take into account students who transfer and complete their degree at another school, it nonetheless, quite shocking.

There are two reasons why I believe this trend is not improving.

One relates to overall preparedness for college. The other has to do with choosing the right college (I will talk about this second one in my January newsletter).

I visit colleges regularly and speak with the academic support staff. Routinely, they point out that students are arriving at college unprepared to work independently, make decisions, manage their time and negotiate social ups and downs (this is in addition to any academic content difficulties they may experience).

These students are accustomed to having their parents help with all of these areas and are at a loss as how to proceed on their own.  It’s no wonder that reports of anxiety and depression are at an all-time high on college campuses.

In her book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the OverParenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, former Stanford University Admissions Dean, Julie Lythcott–Haims, outlines how events over the past 30 years have changed the way many Americans parent. There is good background in the first half of the book, while the second half zeroes in on teens , college and work preparedness.

Even if your child is a junior, senior or already at college, there are things we can all do (or stop doing!) as parents, some of which are doing a disservice to your child in the long run.

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