We like the President’s suggestion that Community College be free to all. But it may fail to address America’s biggest issue with higher education. The real problem, you see, is not that people aren’t going into college. It’s that they’re not finishing college – in huge numbers. The stats are amazing and frightening:
According to the Federal Digest of Education, less than twenty per cent of students who enroll on public two-year schools (community colleges) finish their degree within three years. The U.S. Department of Education reports that only 59 per cent of students who entered any kind of four year school in 2006 managed to graduate by 2012 – six years later.
It may not be very comforting, but if you got some college credits but never finished a degree, you’re not alone. Here are the main reasons you might remain in the ranks of those who never finish an education.
1. You got lousy advice from your high school’s guidance counselor.
According to a report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, most high school grads say they got bad advice or almost no advice at all from overworked advisors in their high school. That often leads to a bad choice of college and/or major.
2. You have way too much work to do for your job and your family life to study.
Both young and old college students (and there are lots of the latter these days) are working tons of hours at real jobs and taking care of kids. It can hurt their grades and their chance of making it to graduation.
3. Your friends all have too much college debt, and you don’t want to end up the same.
College obviously costs a lot of money. There are lots of grants and scholarships that students don’t know about, however, that can help you finish school without piling up a ton of debt. Choosing a low cost school is also a good idea.
4. You’ve changed your major too many times.
Jumping from one major to another again and again can force you to repeat basic required courses again and again, stretching out the time it takes to finish a degree.
5. You’ve jumped around to too many schools.
Although many schools have very liberal policies on transferring credits today, you can still wind up losing credits if you new school doesn’t give you credit for what you learned at your old school. Be especially aware that many four year schools don’t accept lots of credits from community colleges.
6. You’re not sure it will benefit you anyway.
If you don’t know what you want to do with your degree, it may not help you that much. But be aware that there are fewer and fewer jobs you can get without a degree today, and that study after study has shown that degree holder earn vastly more incomes in their lives than those with no degrees.
7. When you tried college, you just didn’t like it.
This may be the toughest one to argue with. We’re not all happy as students. If you’re not, you might want to consider a career path that doesn’t require lots of educational credentials to succeed in. Don’t worry, several billionaires including Bill Gates and Larry Ellison never finished a college degree either.