Last week, Public Agenda released a report exploring the reasons why only 20 percent of young adults at two-year institutions finish within three years, and only 40 percent at four-year colleges finish within six years. The study compares backgrounds and experiences of students who dropped out of school with those who have finished.
The entire report is worth reading, but here are two excerpts that seemed particularly relevant for readers of this blog:
--More than a third (36 percent) of those who left school say that even if they had a grant that fully paid for tuition and books, it would be hard to go back. And twice as many of them say the need “to work full-time” (56 percent) and “family commitments” (53 percent) are major reasons they can’t go back, compared with 26 percent who say they would “not be able to afford college.”
--In a focus group in Erie, Pennsylvania, several young women gasped in disbelief when the moderator listed child care as one of many possibilities for solutions to the college dropout problem. Of course that would help, several immediately agreed. “Would a college ever do that?” most of them asked. A woman in Seattle who had dropped out of college said, “The one [school] I was at, they have a huge waiting list for the day care. It was just really difficult to get in.… It was all really complicated to get it subsidized, at least where you weren’t paying $300 a week, plus whatever you’re paying for tuition.”
I don’t have much to add, except that I hope the colleges, their funding sources, and appropriate government agencies are listening. According to the report, the US has now slipped to tenth place in international college completion rates. I don’t think it’s coincidental that we are one of the few developed countries in which subsidized day care is not a given.