Eighty percent of 10th graders say they plan to earn a college degree, and 64 percent of high school graduates enroll in college. But there’s a huge gap between students’ ambitions and reality, USA Today reports.
Only about one in 17 young people from the nation’s poorest families, those earning less than $35,377 a year, can expect to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24. For those from the nation’s wealthiest families, those who earn about $85,000 or higher, it’s better than one in two.
Colleges and universities spend an estimated $1 billion a year on remediation for unprepared students.
The number of bachelor’s degrees earned annually rose by 18% from 1990 to 2002. But while graduation rates rose at elite colleges, they dropped — sometimes sharply — at many others, especially public colleges.
Only one in four degree-seeking students at two-year colleges earn a degree or certificate. Results are mixed at four-year colleges. Though graduation rates at the most selective public colleges rose sharply from 1990 to 2002, from 61% to 74.6%, graduation rates at open-admissions colleges, which admit anyone with a high school diploma, slid from 42% to 25.8%.
Middle and high school students need regular reality checks to tell them whether they’re on track to earn a college degree, not just “go” to college, take a few courses and drop out. If they’re not motivated to prepare for college, offer them a path to vocational training and apprenticeships. Money is an excellent motivator for most young people.