Why College Students Don’t Graduate

Critics often suggest the reason America’s college completion rate is low (less than 40 percent of the U.S. adult population has a college diploma) has something to do with the way high schools don’t prepare students for college.

But the problem might be simpler. Maybe it’s just the logistics of taking classes that might be the source of the dismal gradation rate numbers.

According to an article by Steve Yoder in The Fiscal Times:

Students also fall behind because classes they need aren’t available when they need them, notes a 2010 report by the Southern Regional Education Board, a nonprofit that advises southern state educational leaders. One unavailable prerequisite course can cost a student an entire year. A frustrated parent told Wisconsin’s WISC-TV in December 2009 that her son, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, had taken enough credits but still would not be able to graduate in four years because of full classes. “He has been pleading with staff at UW-SP to get this rectified and they will not do anything other than get him finished in four and a half years,” she said.

The solution is perhaps for colleges to think a little more closely about the progress students make through college or make a 4-year plan standard and relatively simple to achieve.

How to make this happen is a matter of debate (reduce the number of credits needed, offer classes all 12 months a year, and punish students for amassing too many credits are some options proposed) but at least colleges are starting to think about the seriousness of this issue.

Daniel Luzer

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