According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 36% of 25 - 29 year old people in the United States had a bachelor's degree in 2015. This number represents approximately half of the people in this age group who began college at some point after their high school graduation. Why are so many people able to graduate from high school and not able to graduate from college?
A report from Complete College America provides some answers. Part-time students rarely graduate. While full-time students graduate at a (dismal) rate of 60.6% completing their 4-year program within 8 years; the equivalent statistic for part-time students is only 24.3%. Another problem is students taking more credits that they need due to poor advice or odd policies that steer them to unnecessary and extra (unneeded) credits. A bachelor degree should require just 120 credits, but the average student earning a bachelor degree completes 136.5 credits and the average time to earn all of those credits is more than four years.
So here is my list of ideas to help students to graduate from college. (Spoiler Alert: These are pretty basic ideas. But like everything else in life, students have to learn them at some point. If no one every teaches these things to our college students and they don't develop these skills on their own, then we can't expect them to have these skills.)
- You are responsible for your college success.
It's not the professor's fault; it's not your parent's fault; it's not "the colleges" fault. You, the student, have to take on the responsibility for your college success. You have to get the correct information about courses you need to graduate. You have to know the deadlines for signing up for courses, for completing course work and projects. You have to ask for help if you need help in a course. You can blame others if you want to, but in the end it is you that does or does not get the diploma.
Number of credits needed per semester. Courses needed; pre-requisites needed. Materials needed. How much time do I need to study? What is a good, quiet place for me to study? Do I have time for sleeping and eating and hanging out with friends. You can't always to everything you want to do when you're working on your bachelor's degree. But be sure to allow some down time along with your school work time. But Make A Plan. It won't magically fall into place; you need to plan accordingly.
3. Don't give up when it gets difficult.
It's OK to struggle a little bit when you are learning new things. And it is certainly OK to get a "B" or a "C" once in a while. But don't convince yourself that you can't do something just because you don't get it the first time. You are a student; you're learning. It's OK to work hard toward your goal of graduating from college--everyone does.
I don't mean to suggest that college students are lazy and that's why they don't graduate. There are lots of reasons why college students don't graduate. I just think that a lot of students aren't prepared for the varied responsibilities of college and it hurts them in the long run. I also believe that most high school graduates can complete college with the necessary supports along the way.