Why Students Drop Out of College – Public Agenda Study

Dear Commons Community,

In today’s New York Times, there is a summary of a report just completed by the Public Agenda and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The report,

“With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them,”

was based on a recent survey of more than 600 individuals aged 22 to 30, comparing those who started a college education but did not complete it with those who received a degree or certificate from a two- or four-year institution.  There are a number of issues raised in this report that should resonate well with those of us who teach and work at CUNY.    Perhaps the most significant was the need for students to work while attending college.   The top reason the dropouts gave for leaving college was that it was just too hard to support themselves and go to school at the same time.

Of particular interest were the responses to a question:

“How would the following help someone whose circumstances are similar to yours were after high school in getting a college degree?”

The top three responses were:

Allow part-time students to qualify for financial aid – 81%
Offer more courses in the evenings, on weekends or in the summer so people can work whileattending school – 78%
Cut the cost of attending collegeby 25 percent – 78%

The three lowest responses were:

Improve teaching so the classes are more interesting and relevant – 67%
Put more classes online – 57%
Make the college application process easier – 50%

Those of us particularly interested in online learning can feel either positive or not so positive with these results.  While fully half of these students feel online learning would help them complete a degree, there are a number of other things  more important to them.

The NY Times article is available at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/education/10graduate.html?_r=1&th&emc=th


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