College dropouts cite costs, poor preparation

Only 46 percent of U.S. students who start college complete a degree, according to the OECD. That’s the lowest rate in the industrialized world. College dropouts blame high costs, poor preparation and the need to balance work and family responsibilities with classes.


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  1. Financial burden (or the fear of it ) very likely attributes to the high dropout rate. A completion rate of only 46% is discouraging.
    Quite interestingly, however, the US seems to have an above-average entry rate into univerisity-level education as well as above-average public subsidies for higher education compared to other OECD countries (Source: Education Indicators in Focus, OECD, 2012/02).

  2. I think that lack of preparation, ability and/or motivation to work hard is a big piece of the problem. It’s likely exacerbated by kids seeing older kids with college degrees who have lots of debt and cannot find college-grad level jobs. I think we may be seeing the beginning of the end for college-for-all. The lifetime earnings bump for college grads developed at a time when college grads were inherently different (that pesky combination of preparation, ability and motivation) from non-college-grads. That also dated back to the days when colleges expected to flunk out 1/3 of the class, there were no remedial classes and college was much more affordable (pretty bare-bones amenities and vastly less admin and support staff). It’s not looking like such a great bargain for lots of kids.

  3. We have the highest rate of college dropouts because we have the most open admittance policies and send the highest percentage on with little expectation or requirement that they are prepared. No other nation in the world allows university acceptance to students who haven’t even completed high school.

    Our rate of bachelor’s degrees is almost thirty percent, which is quite impressive.