In contemporary academic life, there are some things I have found to be completely predictable. One of these is the annual urging of faculty by administrators to help the school retain students. On my campus there is a “Director of Student Success” whose sole purpose is to persuade students not to drop out of school after their first semester or two. For a few years I wondered if this is because of some unique problem we have with student retention, but apparently it is not. A recent study from the American Institutes of Research has found that retention is a problem everywhere and that huge amounts of money are being wasted on student dropouts.
The bottom line is that state and federal governments have given billions of dollars in grants to students who drop out of college after one year or less. (30% of all incoming freshmen will be gone in a year.) This study only includes four-year colleges; the numbers would undoubtedly be much worse if community colleges were taken into account. Only 60% of students entering a “four-year” college will graduate within SIX years.
We obviously have some serious problems in our system. According to this Bureau of Labor Statistics report, college students spend more time in an average weekday on sports and recreation than on academic endeavors. No wonder so many people are failing to graduate in a reasonable length of time!
You can find more discussion of waste in education subsidies here.