Educational researchers are very concerned. The results are in from a study of 200,000 freshmen who began college in 1999. 56% of those students did not graduate. A 44% dropout rate in our public universities means we are most likely losing our competitive edge compared to other nations.
Why is this happening, despite billions of dollars in financial aid at dozens of government and private programs to ensure college success? This new research concludes that demographic factors play a larger role in determining a student success than was previously believed. Gender, race and parental education are what really determine if a student will graduate from college.
Are there any ways to buck the trend?. It seems that regardless of the quality of the high school attended, students with grades of B or higher are the students who finish college.
And why do high school grades matter so much? High grades in high school require studying hard, paying attention and doing your best. These are the qualities that usually predict success at the university level as well.
Another way to buck the trend is to pay careful attention to which university is attended. Rather than being the top dog at a lower-ranked school, students are more likely to graduate if they attend a college that is slightly challenging. Being surrounded I am motivated and challenging peers is a high predictor of University success. For the same reason, it is not recommended to begin a four-year college career at a two-year community college just to save money.
One experiment has succeeded at the university level. Programs providing teams of low income and minority students, the financial and personal support they need has resulted in increased graduation rates. Scholarships, mentors, counselors and peer support all work together to raise the performances of underachieving students in college.