While it’s fun to mock the corny or creepy lengths colleges are going to early in the new year to keep their newest students enrolled, NPR points out that retention is a major concern for colleges, since up to half of all college students will never attain a degree.

As the article notes, more selective schools have fewer problems in this department. “It’s easy to be able to retain and graduate the best and the brightest,” said Fran McNairy, president of Millersville University, a public institution near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

This is very much a class issue. If you grew up in an affluent community where the assumption is that just about everyone will go to college, where you have several familial and social safety nets in place when you experience your first pangs of homesickness or get your first bad grade, it’s unlikely you’ll leave school. If you didn’t grow up in a place like that, or don’t have those social nets, the walk out the door will be much shorter and straighter.

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Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.