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5 Reasons Why Students Drop Out of College: Forewarned is Forearmed

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 60 percent of students who enter college in the U.S. graduate successfully, and it usually takes them more than 4 years to complete a four-year degree. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development claims that the U.S. has the highest dropout rate in the industrial world, and it only keeps rising. So, what causes so many students to drop out of college?

I’ll try to cover the most common reasons, but first, let me introduce Amy, a friend of mine. Two years ago she enrolled in the University of Chicago which was the college of her dreams since middle school. Back in school, Amy was a hard-working and ambitious student, but in the college, she couldn’t cope with all the classes and social life let alone living on her own. Amy was too overwhelmed with the life she dreamed about for years, and eventually, she had to give in. The truth is, there are a lot of freshmen who may find themselves in the same boat. So, why do students drop out of college even though they know how important higher education is?

Education is too expensive

It’s the most common reason for quitting college, according to 2009 report «With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them» written by Public Agenda, a nonprofit research group. The majority of students have to juggle school and work as their parents couldn’t afford to pay for the education their children receiving. Public Agenda claims that almost 6 in 10 students drop out of college because they have to make money on their own to pay for the education. And if a student has to take care of their own family and children, life is getting even more complicated. Though students are trying to make every effort to study well, the stress and anxiety eventually take its toll.

Moreover, working students sometimes lose motivation to study hard as they start to make decent money. Instead of investing in uncertain future, they prefer getting paid today. And if your career has started to take off, it’s pretty hard not to lose interest in higher education as it may seem useless. However, most students who once left college for the part-time job, soon start to realize that getting a degree is never a bad idea, and being a waiter isn’t the job of their dreams. Be it as it may, the high cost of higher education – pun intended – makes students do their best to keep studying.

Lack of responsibility

So, imagine that you could easily afford to study in a private college. This is great, but money alone couldn’t provide you with a proper education – you have to actually study, right? Well, it turns out that is easier said than done. Roger Martin, author of «Off to College: A Guide for Parents», believes that the first issue for a college freshman is time-management. And to manage academic work and hanging out with new friends, you need to be quite a responsible person.

Moreover, some freshmen aren’t prepared academically while others can’t stick to the schedule even though their competence seems to be enough. Many schools offer remedial courses to fill the knowledge gaps, but it may be challenging to make yourself attend extra classes.

It’s hard to adapt to the new environment juggling classes, homework, social life, hobbies, and chores. You need to have a strong motivation to do so – for instance, getting a degree. Remember – the more parties you throw, the harder passing the exams would be. As they say, «a little party never killed nobody», but you should find the middle ground between having fun and studying to keep on track.

This isn’t the right choice

There are not so many applicants who know exactly what they’re interested in and what career they want to pursue. Some are just inclined to one field or another. And sometimes children have to follow the footsteps of their parents regarding career, so they merely have a choice. For instance, if your dad and your grandfather are well-known and respectable lawyers, odds are, they want you to become a lawyer as well.

Some teens have the courage to have their own way and pursue the career they truly want. But if you’re not interested in something in particular and the parents assure you that you should keep up the family tradition, it’s pretty hard to oppose. Such children often enter an honorable college but have no motivation to attend classes. So, make sure that you enroll in college because you want to study something you’re really interested in, and not because your parents want you to get a degree in law or in French literature.
By the way, entering the school only because your best friend is going to study there isn’t a good choice either. I hope that your friendship will live happily ever after, but I’m pretty sure that studying won’t be so successful in this case.

Lack of counseling

The survey conducted by Public Agenda in 2011 revealed that half of the public school students surveyed didn’t have proper college counseling in high school. The situation doesn’t get better once in college: many freshmen and sophomores lack counseling as well. As a result, they may spend a huge amount of time attending general education courses which may seem meaningless and useless as they took the similar classes in high school.

The problem is not only the quality of the counseling but also the number of counselors available. Although some professional groups like the American School Counselor Association claim that a student-counselor ratio of 250 to 1 is enough, in fact, there are way more students that one counselor has to work with. For instance, in California, the ratio is almost one thousand students for every counselor available, according to Public Agenda.

One person just can’t give enough support and guidance to all the students that need it. Not knowing how to create a schedule on one’s own or having second thoughts about the major chosen could discourage a student and lead to dropout in some cases.

Unexpected life situations

Finally, some things just happen, and there is nothing we could do about it. No matter how hard you work to get a degree, an accident, an injury, or a serious illness make it impossible to keep on studying. If some serious problems arise in the family, you may be forced to go back home as well. As sad as it may sound, bad things happen to good people – and to good and hard-working students, too. However, students that have faced such external circumstances are usually eager to continue their education as soon as possible, and they often reenter college when all the issues are solved. So, I had to put this reason to the list, but it’s not the primary one.

I hope that knowing the reasons why do people drop out of college will help you to avoid doing so yourself. I’m sure that you were told a thousand times that education is crucial as it helps you to get a decent job and to keep growing as a person. And I could only join the majority simply because it’s true. Believe a person who has dropped out twice and was incredibly happy to receive a bachelor degree in biology last year finally


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