Nearly 34 million American adults list their highest level of education as “some college, no degree.” All of those people with “some college” education, you know when they left college? Right about now.

Alan Tripp writes in the Washington Post that winter break is high dropout season:

One of the things we’ve noticed in our work with thousands of students each day is that the holidays are also a time when many students make a decision to change course. This is particularly true of first-year students just three or four months into their college careers. In fact, half of all students who drop out of college will do so within their first year.

Most colleges don’t make a gigantic effort to prevent this from happening, at least in part because students rarely officially declare that they’re leaving. They’re more likely simply not to return or to say they’re going to take some “time off” from college. Time off that never really ends. It’s a remarkably easy time for students to leave. If colleges are serious about improving their completion rates, this is the time period that matters.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer