The Forgotten Students: Understanding the Student Completion Crisis in Higher Education
THE FORGOTTEN STUDENTS: UNDERSTANDING THE STUDENT COMPLETION CRISIS IN HIGHER ED AND NEW APPROACHES TO SOLVING IT
Each year, over a million students drop out of college or university—some 31 million Americans in the last two decades. To put this in perspective, colleges grant approximately 2.2 million degrees per year —31 million dropouts is akin to not graduating any students for 14 full years. In fact, only 48.3% of first-time, full-time students at public universities graduate within six years, prompting academic leaders, like Arizona State University President Michael Crow, to dub this a “completion crisis.”
Why are students, who are often eager to participate in higher education, dropping out before completing their degrees? Upon arrival, they often face unforeseen and seemingly insurmountable hurdles that they can’t always navigate or overcome. From family needs and responsibilities, medical and financial issues, to a lack of a sense of belonging, the end result is too often the same: Students drop out of school and do not return. Contrary to some commonly held beliefs, many of these students are academically strong, yet the education system at large spends little-to-no time trying to get them back. These are the Forgotten Students.
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