Students who stop out of college are disproportionately women, low income and working students, according to a new study by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association and StraighterLine, an online education provider.
The survey of adults ages 20 to 34 who completed some college but earned no degree aims to answer four questions, StraighterLine chief learning officer Amy Smith said in a press release. “Who leaves college? Why do they leave? Who comes back? How do we get them back?”
The majority of survey respondents—63 percent—were women. More than half were full-time employees, and 65 percent had household incomes of $50,000 or below.
Across all demographics, 42 percent of respondents reported stopping out of college for financial reasons, and 32 percent said they left because of family or personal commitments.
When asked what institutions could do to re-engage them, 70 percent of former students said colleges and universities could offer certificates for credits earned, 62 percent said institutions could lower the costs of courses, and 55 percent said institutions could provide counseling, among other proposed supports.
Jim Fong, chief research officer and director of the Center for Research and Strategy at UPCEA, said students will be greatly disadvantaged if colleges fail to anticipate the hurdles that cause them to leave.
“Given the pandemic and the evolution of a new economy, one that relies on automation and information, students will be more likely to disengage with higher education for a variety of reasons,” he said in the release.