Essay Samples on What Can Be Done to Improve the College Graduation Rate?

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1223 Words
Date:  2022-05-16

This prologue introduces a series of essays centered around the question, "What Can Be Done to Improve the College Graduation Rate?" These essays, categorized under Graduation Essays, delve into various methods and practices regarding "How to Improve the College Graduation Rate?" Former students of Scripps College and Santa Clara University generously provided them. The insights and examples are typical of essays about practices for improving college graduation rate and preserving all original grammar. This compilation aims to guide and inspire students in crafting their perspectives on enhancing success in higher education.

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Essay Samlple #1


Most colleges have experienced a decline in graduation rates over the recent years while some have increased. The higher standards of admission have been purported to have boosted the graduation rate. However, organizational changes and new programs have also been depicted to result in high graduation rates. It is necessary for colleges to concentrate on specific factors that have an impact on the low graduation rates. One of this is the students who are dropping out. The essay will explore the strategies or ways that can be used to improve the college graduation rate.

Logistical changes have been observed to have an impact on simplifying student's path towards the classes they require. It has been noted that in most colleges, the timing of numerous courses offed usually overlap which has been attributed to planning guidelines which are imposed inaccurately. Consequently, it makes it hard for some students to select classes that are not conflicting. However, narrowing the planning rules have been observed to increase the graduation rate. Moreover, another logistical change that can be made entails developing conducive social settings. In the end, a favorable social environment will encourage graduation. For instance, some freshmen can be placed in small groups in which all members live in the same area and even attend classes together. In this way, bonds among these peers will develop encouraging them to read and complete their studies. Besides, first-year students can also be given clothes such as a T-shirt with their date or year of graduation. It will be a way of delivering a useful message and lay out expectations for them as well (Jackson & Cook, 2018).

On the other hand, specific areas have been identified as crucial and where students need assistance for them to graduate. One of this is focusing on a particular field or course. It is fundamental for students to choose an appropriate major and comprehend all the requirements required before graduating. In this way, they will focus more on completion of their studies and even look forward to graduating. Approaches must be used to support them and further enhance their academic performance. Additionally, their employment capability should be nurtured. In this case, they should be assisted to obtain part-time jobs and especially those that are in line with their course. The students should also be taught how to efficiently write resumes which will be an inspiration for them, and they will look forward to graduate. Most people have difficulties defining a career path they desire to follow. It may be analyzed in the form of striving to select a major area to concentrate on and which will match their tasks in the job market. Hence, it is fundamental to offer the right guidance to students on what they can focus on, and they will be inspired to finalize their studies and graduate (Merchant, 2012).

The risks of students dropping out are quite high. It is essential to take necessary efforts to minimize such hazards. Some institutions have developed a software that analyzes the risks of dropout. As such, specific factors are used to analyze the likelihood of a student to drop out. They entail one being far from home or not participating in most activities on campus. Also, first-year students have been associated with a high possibility of dropping out. Once such cases are identified, it is crucial to send advisers to guide them and ensure that they are comfortable while in the institution. Some students may exhibit excellent academic performance but still, have the signs identified. They will also need to be guided accordingly. However, poor academic performance may also be utilized as a way of determining whether a student may drop out of college. In most cases, they may be stressed and thus require appropriate guidance and counseling. Therefore, it is essential for colleges to regularly track the condition of their students and launch a first-year students mentoring program. The program can be designed in a way that the upper-class students' advisers work with the freshmen ensuring that they have settled well in the institution. Students likely to have issues with settling down are the foreign ones. Nonetheless, conducting a follow up of issues such as housing availability for them will make them comfortable and focus on their studies (Jackson and Cook, 2018). As such, by ensuring that students are comfortable while in college, the possibility of them completing their studies will be high which will further lead to them graduating.

The rate of college dropouts has been reported to be quite high. One of the major issues facing students is the financial limitation. Some students come from families where family and personal income are a problem. As such, they may not be able to continue paying for college and thus are forced to drop out either completely or put their education on hold which may be for months and sometimes for several years. Therefore, it is fundamental to come up with strategies that will make tuition affordable or free especially for those students who are needy. It is evident that retention issues related to income broaden the gap between public schools that have a lower tuition rate but few scholarship opportunities. The situation can be compared with private schools that have need-based bursaries which can support some learners' tuition years for the entire academic period (Castleman & Long, 2016). The analysis conducted has thus demonstrated that financial assistance is crucial as it will minimize the dropout rate of a large number of students and ensure that most of the end up graduating.


The paper has explored graduation rates in colleges which have been observed to be low and offer strategies that can be utilized to ensure it is high or at a reasonable level. Logistical changes have been identified to affect simplifying student's path towards the classes they need. As such, most students will find it easy to locate their classes and select those which are not conflicting. Logistical change can also be undertaken regarding developing conducive social changes which will encourage graduation. Students also need to be assisted in choosing the right majors and further understand all the requirement before they graduate. Besides, their employability capability should be nurtured regarding issues such as writing resumes efficiently. All this will encourage them to complete their studies and graduate. Most learners may be undergoing difficulties and thus need advice. Some of them drop out due to discomfort in college, for instance not settling down well. However, the presence of advisers among students will boost their ability to stay in the institution and complete their studies. Furthermore, financial assistance is vital especially for those facing family and personal income problems. Their tuition can be made free or significantly lowered thus ensuring that they do not drop out and eventually graduate.


Castleman, B. L., & Long, B. T. (2016). Looking beyond enrollment: The causal effect of need-based grants on college access, persistence, and graduation. Journal of Labor Economics, 34(4), 1023-1073.

Jackson, J., & Cook, K. (2018). Improving College Graduation Rates: A Closer Look at California State University - Public Policy Institute of California. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved 26 April 2018, from

Merchant, A. (2012). A Simple Method to Improve College Graduation Rates (SSIR). Retrieved 26 April 2018, from

Essay Samlple #2


The chosen topic for this discussion is answering the question "What can be done to improve the college graduation rate?" It is an important topic that touches the education aspect in many countries of the world. The problem of declining college graduates is alarming with more students seemingly leaving their studies before their final and graduation year. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the problem of the low college graduation rate, explain the significance of the issue and to provide a recommended solution to address the challenge.

The Problem

Research shows that there is a declining percentage of college students who are graduating every year (Juszkiewicz, 2016). In the year 2010, only 21.8% of the college students attending a 2-year public institution graduated. This rate remained unchanged from the previous 2009 rate of 21.2% (Juszkiewicz, 2016). The main concern associated with this issue is the anticipating of the job market for older students as well as the costs and return on investment. In a 2015 report presented by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, only 52.9% of the students who started their college in the year 2009 graduated within the six years of learning. Compared to a 55% graduation rate in 2008 and 56.1% in 2007, the graduation rate is going down each year (Shapiro, Dundar, Wakhungu, Yuan, Nathan & Hwang, 2015). The funding of colleges and universities is a significant determinant of student outcomes including college graduation rates. The report shows that students who start their college at the age of 20 years have the highest percentage of college dropouts and this could be attributed to the improved labor market. Some of these students get jobs while studying and find it difficult to manage school and work. Therefore, they drop out of college before graduating. However, those aged below 20 years and falling out of college can be as a result of other factors. They are the most significant number getting out of college and not completing their education. These low graduation rates are as a result of college affordability for these students. Due to increased expenses in higher education, it has become difficult for students to stay in and complete their studies. Even with student loans, the learners lack the confidence that they will be able to finish, graduate and pay back the debts (Shapiro et al., 2015). Older learners in the four-year college program are also affected by the high cost of education in colleges which has led to their low graduation rates. The report shows that only a third of the working students who had enrolled in profit colleges for the 2009 fall intake graduated within six years.

The Significance of the Problem

The problem of college graduate rates declining is significant in different ways. The subject helps individuals, the government, and the higher education institutions of the need for coming up appropriate solutions to assist in improving student retention in colleges. The answers to the problem will increase student retention in higher education institutions and thus college graduation rates.

The problem helps one understand the issue and how it is affecting a population that is anticipated to become breadwinners in the coming years. Low college graduation rate is a crucial aspect that defines the life of people in the coming generations. Without their degrees, students will be challenges to find sustainable jobs in the future. The effect of low college graduation rates may lead to more societal problems if not addressed early and appropriately. According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the reducing college completion and graduation rates are disappointing (Juszkiewicz, 2016). The unprepared students for college leave the institutions to look for jobs when there is an improvement of the economy. Countries that need to meet the national goals must have an educated population and workforce. It requires using the appropriate measures to boost college completion and graduation rates.

The high costs of education are also affecting the working students, and that affects their ability to continue and complete college education. In a study carried out by Vega and Martinze (2012), the authors found out that affordability of college education is critical to avoid these learned struggling to obtain that education. Some of them are challenged to access the colleges due to lack of finances and this result to their inability to continue with schooling. Many of the time, those staying closer to the college have higher graduation rates. It shows that the problem of declining college graduation rates informs people of the reasons as to why it is happening. With the knowledge of the causes of these declines, it is possible to identify practical measures to deal with the issue.

Recommended Solution to the Problem

Many reasons lead to college students dropping out and failing to graduate. From the above discussion, financial capability is a factor that contributes to college completion and graduation for students. It shows that the financial ability of students will help them complete their higher education without many challenges. Therefore, the recommended solution to the problem of low college graduation rates is to finance or help students get enough resources to support them throughout their college. Supporting these students financially will be a critical tool to improving college graduation rates in the U.S. A study carried out by Merchant (2012) reveal that maintaining enough financial aid to college students is useful to keep them in school. This support can be provided by renewing the student scholarships, helping them and their guardians to make smart financial decisions and colleges ensuring that they stay current on scholarship payments.

Other students have been noticed as not ready for college or not sure of why they enrolled in college and thus dropping out suddenly due to lack of focus. Supporting college students with this problem that make them not to graduate requires higher education institutions to understand the need for the students as the beneficiaries of the education services. In that case, it will be necessary to realize that college students need help to stay on track with their education. The faculty should inform and help students in choosing their major that will be suitable for their future career, understand the requirements that they must meet to graduate and the adequate strategies and support for enhancing their performance in academics (Merchant, 2012). For instance, students who are finding jobs while in school should be advised to switch their mode of study from full-time to part-time. Colleges need to inform the students of this option to avoid the aspect of many students dropping out entirely.

The students should also be helped to maintain a positive attitude towards life. By being able to manage their lives, the students will stay connected with helpful people, resolve any challenge they face in college and ultimately obtain the capacity to graduate. With these solutions, it will be possible to improve college graduation rates in the coming years.


In conclusion, the measures to improve college graduation rate is an important topic that touches areas that need to be looked at in enabling students to complete their higher education. The discussion reveals that college students face various challenges that hinder their college completion and thus failing to graduate. The college graduation rates can be improved if students are supported financially and psychologically by being prepared to face life challenges. The subject is crucial in helping individuals, higher education institutions and the government on the areas to work on if at all college graduation rates are to be improved. There is the need for developing measures that cater to the postsecondary pathways for students. Improved student outcomes including better college graduation rates will result from setting new policies for both public and community colleges to realize the need for supporting students financially and psychologically.


Juszkiewicz, J. (2016, March). Trends in Community College Enrollment and Completion Data, 2016. Washington, DC: American Association of Community Colleges.

Merchant, A. (2012, September). A simple method to improve college graduation rates. A case study of Boston-area organization bottom line. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Wakhungu, P.K., Yuan, X., Nathan, A. & Hwang, Y. (2015, November). Completing college: A National view of student attainment rates - fall 2009 cohort (Signature Report No. 10). Herndon, VA: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Vega, A., & Martinez, R. (2012). A Latino Scorecard for higher education: A focus on Texas Universities. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 11(41); 41-53.

Essay Samlple #3


Colleges are institutions of higher learning that are intended as gateways to a fulfilling career in an individual's life. Americans today are enrolling in college more than ever before, but only 54.8% of them make it to graduation in six years (Hess, 2017). In an ideal world, all students who are admitted to college ought to graduate after completing their course. However, it is becoming a problem in America since there is a significant, almost half, portion of students who fail to make it to graduation. Congress recently approved the spending of $4 billion, over two years, on programs that improve the rate of college completion (Deming, 2018). Such a massive investment shows that the government is keen on ensuring that students complete their higher education obligations. Students fail to complete college and graduate due to various factors and chief among them is the financial aspect. Improving the affordability of college education via tuition cuts, tuition freezes, or fast-tracking degree programs will increase the graduation rates. Making proper investments in the public institutions will encourage learners to see through their courses.


I propose investing in improving the institutions and using various financial incentives to lower the cost of earning the degree.

Significance of the Problem

It is vital to ensure a high rate of graduation from the institutions of higher learning since these individuals form the backbone of skilled labor in the country. Consequently, more graduates mean that students from low-income families will get the chance to lift themselves from poverty (Hess, 2017).

Plan of Action

Community colleges are unique since they primarily consist of the first generation, non-white, and low-income students (Dynarski, 2015). Therefore, any form of financial assistance would be beneficial to this group. There are meager graduation rates in the community colleges in America since only about 20% of students who seek a degree can get one within a three-year period (Dynarski, 2015). Such low rates indicate that these colleges are dead ends for many students instead of helping them towards their chosen careers. The City University of New York utilized an approach that recorded a doubling in the graduation rates over a three-year period. The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs initiative was a multipronged attempt that included free textbooks, free MetroCards, and a waiver on any shortfalls between financial aid and schooling costs among other features (Dynarski, 2015). This intervention program allowed students to focus on their learning instead of their finances and hence the graduation rates increased.

Investing in the public institutions is a vital part of increasing the graduation rates in colleges. There has been an increase in the federal government's support for higher education over the past decade. Almost all of the growth has happened in need-based areas such as tax credits and student loans (Deming, 2018). These factors have consequently led to a very high number of enrolment into colleges. On the other hand, there has been a stagnation in the state's support for public higher education institutions (Deming, 2018). The increase in students has not been followed by an equal change in the budget for running the colleges. Public institutions must accommodate the extra students on a strict budget, and hence most of them offer large classes with little support services for the students. These support services are invaluable in helping the majority of poor students to complete college and graduate. Evidence shows that increasing the per-student spending on academic support services will improve student GPAs and increase the rates of completing college (Deming, 2018). Therefore, increasing investment in the institutions will facilitate support services that will increase the chances of students to graduate.

The fluctuation in tuition fees is a significant factor that interferes with the learning program of students. Tuition freezes are an effective way of enhancing affordability and planning which helps more students to graduate. There has been a 2%-4% average increase in fees, tuition, and accommodation in four-year private and public institutions over the last three decades (Hanover Research, 2014). Such increases can interfere with the planning of students and end up hindering the graduation chances of some. A tuition freeze is a promise from the financial institutions not to increase the cost of tuition for its students over a specified period. The freezes help college students, and their families, to project the total cost of the entire course, and hence make informed financial commitment plans. This method further increases the chances of graduating since it requires the students to remain enrolled for the whole of the course duration for the tuition freeze to be applicable (Hanover Research, 2014). The ability to project all the costs, and avoid the fluctuating rates, will help students to work towards their degrees without interruption.

Tuition cuts are another effective way of increasing the graduation rates (Hanover Research, 2014). The reductions could be across the board or target specific academic programs. When the cost of tuition is reduced, it will become affordable to those who may drop out due to financial reasons. Numerous public and private institutions have reduced the tuition of their summer classes as a way of increasing the timely graduation of students. In Indiana, Ball State University slashed the cost of its summer tuition courses by 18% to encourage students to enroll and be on track for their graduation. The University of Iowa implemented free summer classes for all freshmen in 2014 as a way of improving the four-year graduation rate (Hanover Research, 2014). Institutions can offer reduced tuition rates over the summer since the student services are reduced. The desired outcome of slashing tuition is to reduce the financial burden of the course on students and hence encourage them to graduate.

Fast-tracking the degree programs is another way used to slash the student expenses while reducing the time spent towards graduation (Hanover Research, 2014). Accelerating the degree programs to within a three-year period was touted as a promising approach to increase the affordability of college education. Fast track programs like three-year degrees allow students to collapse the four-year coursework into three years. Institutions also will enable the integration of prior learning and competency measures to meet the credit requirements (Hanover Research, 2014). Reducing the overall time spent in college will mean that students will pay less than if they were to study for the four-year period. Ball State University allows students to complete academic majors over summer and regular semester terms for tuition equivalent to a four-year program (Hanover Research, 2014). The increased affordability means that students will enjoy reduced costs hence increasing the chances of graduation.

Another incentive that keeps students in school is the replacement of loans with grants. It was an approach commonly favored by elite universities like Princeton and Duke, but public institutions like the University of Virginia have followed suit (Hanover Research, 2014). This approach targets the most vulnerable and needy students by enabling them to graduate without any debt. Paying back costly student loans is a significant hindrance for many needy students who require financing to go through college. Institutions should seek to create a fund for offering grants to the students who are deemed needy. Replacing the loans with grants will reduce the financial burden and allow students to study stress-free. Making college education free is also in line with reducing the financial strain on needy students. Obama's proposal to make learning in community colleges free for responsible high school students is already taking effect despite bills pending in Congress. States like Oregon, Kentucky, and Minnesota offer free tuition to all eligible high school graduates (Tugend, 2016). Students who receive grants, or any form of financial assistance, will be keen to complete their coursework and graduate on time since there is the added incentive of not paying the high loan amounts after graduation.


College enrolment in America is at an all-time high, but the same cannot be said of the graduation rates. It is a worrying trend when almost half college entrants do not manage to complete their courses and graduate. It is vital to ensure that college students graduate to ensure a steady supply of skilled labor in the country while giving people the opportunity to lift their families out of poverty. Financial matters are a prominent reason for holding many students back from reaching the graduation level, especially in community colleges with students of color and other minorities. Financial incentives come in many ways such as investing in public institutions, reducing the cost of tuition, freezing the tuition rates, and offering grants instead of loans to help bright but needy students. All these approaches will relieve the student or their family of certain financial burdens, which will increase the rates of graduation.


Deming, D. (2018). To increase college completion rates, invest directly in public postsecondary institutions. Retrieved from

Dynarski, S. (2015). How to Improve Graduation Rates at Community Colleges. Retrieved from

Hanover Research. (2014). Tuition and Financial Aid Incentives for Improving Graduation Rates. Washington, DC. Retrieved from

Hess, A. (2017). Bill Gates: US college dropout rates are 'tragic.' Retrieved from

Tugend, A. (2016). Revamping Community Colleges to Improve Graduation Rates. Retrieved from

Essay Samlple #4


According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), over the last twenty years, there have been about 30 million students who have failed to complete their tertiary education in one way or another (NSCRC, 2016). The same study also showed that about a third of the number had minimal interaction with college since they enrolled for only a single term of study. The problem of low college graduation rates is real and requires significant strategies in order to solve. The following paper explores the scope of the problem by finding out the reasons that most of the drop outs occur and the solutions that have been put forward to help mitigate the problem. In essence, some of the effective ways to deal with the problem of low graduation rates are incorporating work experience in the learning process, improving tertiary institutions to accommodate more students, comprehensive student support services and improving the industries students are expected to join after graduation. The above solutions will be discussed in detail after clear exploration for the reasons for low graduation rates.

Most students enrolled into tertiary institutions are about the age when adulthood is at its onset. It is a period when young people try to decide the relationships they want and the lives they would like to lead from then onwards. For this reason, the period is the most taxing and correct choices go a long way to helping the rest of their lives. The following section discusses the main reasons why some students are not able to complete their tertiary education.

Factors Leading to Incompletion and Dropping Out

The first reason cited for the drop outs are psychological factors. Students are unable to cope with the requirements of higher education and life and hence chose to opt out of the system (NSCRC, 2016). In essence, the fact that most students begin to experience life on their own outside their familiar social settings leads them to want to fit in the new world appropriately. One of the psychological factors that affect new enrollees is the uneven formal education arrangement compared to the courses they apply to (Albert, 2010). Most mathematics and science students are not adequately prepared for the transition. Another psychological factor is inadequate development of self-regulation and self-reliance. The wave of new experiences is seen to hit hard therefore leading to negative influences that lead to dropping out of school completely.

The second major reason given for dropping out or not finishing higher education is social background factors (Albert, 2010). In essence, students coming from risk prone areas are more likely to drop out of school due to various social factors such as financial strain. Most students seem to not have the proper balance between working and school an eventually drop out to work menial jobs throughout. In the same way, the financial strains from their backgrounds make it hard for them to complete higher education.

Finally, another important reason given for the high dropout and incompletion rates is institutional inadequacy. Higher institutions of leaning are blamed for not having adequate absorption mechanisms that can be used to incorporate the different students into college life effectively. There is a clear lack of strategies to absorb the complex personalities from different backgrounds into an integrated higher learning experience. The institutions are cited to lack proper student engagement strategies to retain the students.

Consequences of Incompletion and Dropouts

The rate of incompletion is observed to affect various sectors in different ways. The following section discusses the consequences to be expected from the trend of college dropouts and incompletion. One of the consequences is financial strain (Rhoades, 2014). Institutions experiencing high dropout rates are also behind in financial terms. The tuition fees collection decreases and leads to an eventual decrease in developments. In the same way, the expensive process of recruitment is seen to lead to ineffective use of resources owing to the disproportionality brought by the incompletion rate compared to enrollment. Another consequence of low college completion rates is that it affects admission standards (Rhoades, 2014). Institutions are forced to lower their admission requirements in order to accept more students. The above disproportionality is mitigated by lowered standards to improve retention rates. In essence, enrollment is increased to lead to more retention. The final consequence observed is the reputational effects that both institutional and higher education suffers. Institutions are seen to not be able to cope with students. In this way, the strategies employed for engagement are then seen not to have any positive effects. In the same way, the reputational standards of higher education are observed to be reduced by the rates of incompletion.


Consequently, the problem of college incompletion can be mitigated in the following ways, are incorporating work experience in the learning process, improving tertiary institutions to accommodate more students, comprehensive student support services and improving the industries students are expected to join after graduation. Incorporating work experience in the school process gives students proper practical skills on what to expect in the job market (Tinto, 2016). Essentially, tertiary institution should partner up with corporates and government institutions to integrate students into the working culture even before they graduate. The learning process is made practical in this way and students are motivated to complete school.

The second strategy to employ is to improve tertiary institutions for them to absorb more students. The scale of enrollment should be large enough to allow for the number of students enrolled have enough resources to complete their courses (Tinto, 2016). Lack of adequate resources reduces the practicality of learning and hence makes it impartial and could lead to even more dropout rates. Improving institutions will also lead to an increase in the incentive and overall motivation for research and learning.

Thirdly, the use of comprehensive student support services would go a long way to helping vulnerable and risk prone students to finishing their courses. The support services can be financial, psychological and peer support services (Tinto, 2016). Colleges should think about having the services available on a peer level to properly monitor the risk students. The support services could also be academic to help students transition into education requirements required to lessen the strain on the courses. The educational support can also be used a supplementary service to help working students catch up on missed lessons and also gain learning material to keep abreast with the rest.


In conclusion, the recommendation given for curbing the low incompletion rates is having governments and corporates increase their ability to hire graduates as soon as they complete their tenure. Improving the job industry will also lead to institutions producing the best candidates to take the jobs. Essentially, the solution to improve the job market translates to an even better economy with self-sufficient individuals who in turn lead to the betterment of society as a whole.


Albert, S. (2010). Student Retention - A Moving Target. Council of Ontario Universities, p. 2. 2010.

Rhoades, G.(2014). Faculty Engagement to Enhance Student Attainment. National Commission on Higher Education Attainment and the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.

Tinto, V.(2016).Promoting Student Completion One Class at a Time. Pell Institute for the Student of Opportunity in Higher Education. National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. (2016).

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