Costly dropouts

Federal, state and local taxpayers spend billions of dollars on community college dropouts, I write in U.S. News.

Fewer than 45 percent of college-ready students and just 20 percent of remedial students earn a certificate or degree in four years at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla. That’s “nearly three times the rate” of similar urban community colleges and impressive enough to earn Valencia the first Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded Dec. 12 in Washington, D.C.

In short, even at one of the most successful community colleges, most students don’t complete a certificate or degree.

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  1. The war on community colleges begins. Can’t spend money to help students out when there are corporations needing more tax breaks.

  2. It seems to be part of the big-money pushback by private diploma mills, fresh off of their lobbying victory in avoiding facing any financial consequence for their abysmal graduation and employment rates, to badmouth community colleges and damage their standing as a better-performing, lower cost competitor.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    Just take the money out of the K-12 systems…the community colleges are trying to fix the mess caused by K-12’s standards of social promotion, grade inflation, etc…they basically have to reteach high school level work…let the K-12 system pay for it so that it hurts, truly hurts and forces major K-12 reform so community colleges can effectively do its job and four year plus higher ed can do its job…

    K-12 is broken for so many students…the CC and 4 year institutions have been enablers of the condition remaining because they get more money, higher enrollment but have horrible graduation/completion rate…the pressure should be clearly on the K-12 as funding for state institutions is shifting to graduation rates…

  4. Actually, there is no way to fix the issue by the time students reach community college. The standards 30 years ago for a college student are much different than they are today, and as I recall, here is what we needed at a minimum:

    4 years of english (including composition and a course in literature)
    4 years of math (through algebra II/trig)
    3 years of science (two of which were a lab science)
    2-3 years of history (state/US government)
    1-2 years of a foreign language

    There is absolutely no way that a community (or regular college) can make up for the lack of knowledge that many of the students in the article appear to have. Given that the college completion rate hasn’t varied much in the last 30-40 years (approximately 25-37% nationally), it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that most persons who start college will never finish it.

    Also, the more remediation a student needs, the smaller the chance they’ll ever finish a degree or certificate (this number approaches 90% if the student needs two or more remedial courses, usually in english and math).

    College has become debt slavery in many cases, and isn’t a good bargain in a lot of cases for most people.

  5. At many high schools in Missouri, children can qualify for “A Plus” money for two years almost free at a community college. I will bet you the trouble comes when the student must begin working AND paying tuition just as the classes are getting harder. Just a thought. 🙂

  6. PS. Moderation? I didn’t know you had comment moderation. Hope the trolls are not bothering you…

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    A couple of problems with the article. One is the implication that completing the graduation or certification or whatever is the only “success”. In fact, if the student learns something from his class, that class is a success. The implication is that all the learning, whatever and however much, is somehow irrelevant and non-existent if the required credits aren’t piled up.
    If you need, say, twenty classes for an Associate, and if you are paying as you go, then there is no further expenditure for classes you don’t take. If you take ten classes and pay for ten classes, what’s the “loss”.? Does the college have to front money like a performance bond they forfeit if the student doesn’t graduate?

    One of the reasons for some of the students to be there, in my wife’s experience, is to retain some kind of benefits. If the requirement changes, or if the benefits are no longer available, or if it’s too much work and other benefits are sufficient, or if there’s a life change making them unnecessary, the student might drop out, but, other than having matriculated like all the others, this was not a student in the expected sense. Not sure we should call this a failure of the college.

    Got a relation who is doing the CC thing with the intent of transferring to a four-year school. He’s setting the curve. He’s an adult, shows up for class, studies, can write a complete sentence and he’s, like. totally awesome in the classroom.
    Point is, the youngsters in his class are not prepared for CC either in terms of what they think they should have to do, and what background the school expects–which is pretty limp, anyway.