While millions of students are entering college this fall, millions more are dropping out. A new study by the University of the People using Harris Poll data finds that for the estimated 20 million students beginning their higher education, another 31 million who already began working toward a degree have walked away.
Not surprisingly, the biggest reason cited for dropping out in the survey--nearly 60 percent--was the cost. "The average student takes about 20 years to pay off college loans, and the cost of college has gone up about 600 percent in the last 25 years," says Jean Burk, CEO of College Prep Genius. She tells KTRH that the prospect of trying to pay up front or graduate with massive debt has turned the odds against most college students actually finishing their education. "We've got somewhere around 25 to 30 percent of freshman dropping out, and almost 50 percent of sophomores dropping out based on finances," says Burk. "And ultimately maybe about one-third will actually graduate."
Almost as big a factor as cost in the Harris survey was schedule and timing conflicts, with nearly 60 percent citing lack of flexible scheduling for dropping out. "A big reason is the workload," says Burk. "A lot of people don't realize that once you get out of class, you might have to spend four, five, six hours of studying per class, per day."
Burk believes the key to lowering these dropout rates is better planning. She notes that many people choose schools for the wrong reasons, which leads to regret. "As a parent, what you should be thinking about in a school is what are they teaching, what degree can my child pursue that is going to benefit them, and is it a safe place," says Burk.