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.
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.
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