Drop-outs, the College Edition

In my line of work, day in day out we aim to prevent students across the great state of North Carolina from dropping our of high school. Its fulfilling work, but its task is complex – we know by the 3rd grade whether most kids will stay in school, but their lives, families, and communities can change drastically in the next 5 years alone that keeping track of them is daunting – and then they move out of your jurisdiction of programming.

But we’ve had great success, along with our partners and the state’s phenomenal teachers and school districts. We’ve lowered the drop-out rate to less than 1/3. Closer to 1/4 now. Ten years ago that number was almost 1 out of every 2.

But what about when they go to college? I’ve often wondered about the responsibility we have as a society in promoting higher education to basically everyone, regardless if they can afford $100,000 loans.

The Washington Post brings up a scarier trend – the massively in-debt College Dropout. Rates for public 4-year instutitions are decent – only 20%. Rates of drop-outs for private schools are astonishing – roughly 54% of students leave school. And you can bet they all took loans.

Overall, 30% of college dropouts are leaving school having borrowed money. Combine that with only having a high school degree to make ends meet, monthly payments that could easily top 4 digits in some cases, and no clear path to a career or trade – could this be the next educational, and in turn societal, crisis?

More needs to be done about preventing students from being a dropout – but not in the same sense as we try in middle and high schools.

  • Students need to stop being sold college as the cure all answer to their lives
  • College costs need to be reigned in
  • Private schools (like University of Phoenix) need stronger regulations linking to student success
  • Trade schools & Community Colleges need a renaissance, even after this recession

Is this a crisis waiting to destroy a whole generation’s pursuit of happiness? Or not?


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