Whether it’s celebrated with a dinner out, a generous check from the grandparents, a backyard party or simply a frenzy of moving house, graduating from college is an admirable achievement.
And it’s one that a surprisingly few amount of American college students conquer: The New York Times reports that while the amount of students entering college in the United States is competitive on a global scale, less than two-thirds of those students are graduating. When you take community colleges into account, the graduation rate sinks to 53%.
This statistic, uncovered by a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, is dismal—in fact, it’s one of the lowest graduation rates among the 23 developed countries the O.E.C.D. examines, ahead of only Hungary.
Why So Many Dropouts?
The Times points out that the dropout rate is baffling for two reasons in particular: both because students who leave school midway are often saddled with student loans that affect their financial stability for years, and because a college degree is one of the best investments a person can make.
The report found that (after some calculations) a college degree is worth $365,000 for the average American man and $185,000 for the average woman over a lifetime. Plus, the report says that graduates from two-year colleges earn 16% more than those without degrees, while graduates from four-year colleges earn 84% more. It’s discouraging that so many people get so close to their degrees and bow out.
Some proposed solutions to increase graduation rates include increasing financial aid, providing personalized information about college options to students from low-income backgrounds and using the money that currently subsidizes higher education to prepare students for the rigors of study before they even arrive.
But currently, no effective solution has been successfully implemented—and our graduation rates reflect that fact.