College-going is up, but many drop out
Seventy percent of high school graduates go straight to college, up from 63 percent in 2000. But, one in five don’t make it to sophomore year and more than a third do not finish a degree in six years, writes Hechinger’s Jon Marcus.
“In 2016, the overall completion rate of full-time, first-time students was 49.1 percent at four-year institutions and 38.6 percent at two-year institutions,” reports Elevating College Completion by the American Enterprise Institute and Third Way. At community colleges and other two-year public schools, the completion rate is even lower.
Colleges and universities are trying to improve retention rates, writes Marcus. So far, they’ve made little progress.
Demographics could doom colleges that can’t recruit and retain students: The number of teenagers has fallen. “There are nearly 2.9 million fewer college students than there were at the most recent peak, in 2011,” reports Marcus.
“There’s not a never-ending flow of high school graduates,” said Bruce Vandal, senior vice president at Complete College America.
Texas A&M’s Texarkana campus is trying to raise its persistence and graduation rate.
Reminders have popped up all around the campus about a website called Degree Works, which tells students which requirements they’ve satisfied and what’s still left to do. “Not sure you’re on the right track for graduation?” it calls out to passersby from among notices on bulletin boards advertising class rings and intramural ultimate Frisbee. There are also tutoring centers and a program called Personal Achievement Through Help, or PATH, to keep black male students on track. . . .
University officials say fewer students are dropping out.