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. http://cou.on.ca/publications/academiccolleaguepapers/pdfs/acdiscussionpaperstudentretentionjuly 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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