College Drop Out Rates: How Colleges and Universities Can Change the System

TalkingEDU_Logo-576877-editedEach year, students with scarce resources apply to college, often viewed as the best investment someone can make. After all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with a college degree are likely to make $1,000,000 more in their lifetime than high school graduates. Why then do many of these capable students drop out of college at higher rates than their more affluent peers?

A majority of students who drop out of college do so because of financial need. They may not have the necessary resources – both time and money – to afford a higher education.

According to one study, researchers found that people tend to overfocus on the scarce resource. While “tunneling” makes us better at obtaining the desired resource, such as getting enough money to cover the cost of textbooks, they determined it also compromises our ability to accomplish our other goals.

For example, students must pay tuition and other related costs. Short on the financial means to remain enrolled at an institution, with time stretched working and applying for additional funding, coupled with staying on top of their studies at the risk of not graduating and the psychological impact on their wellbeing, students may feel like they are suffocating.

How can higher education institutions help? The article “Why Students Drop Out of College, and How We Can Do Something About It” offers several suggestions to keep in mind, including:

  • Increasing avenues to funding, such as Georgia State University’s “Panther Retention Grant”
  • Simplifying the enrollment and financial aid process to prevent “summer melt”
  • Clearly stating the amount of tuition owed by student and other budgeted expenses

Take a look at the full article to learn more about “Pounce”, the innovative intervention strategy pioneered by Georgia State University to combat summer melt. The article also offers insight from Vassar College in New York on how to enrich and diversify your institution’s student body by prioritizing funding for those with scarce resources.

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