Dropping Out With Debt

Important front page article in today’s Washington Post about students who incur higher education debt but don’t graduate.  I’ve been writing some lately about why college is still worth it (especially for low-income kids) and that although there is a loan problem, it’s being blown out of proportion.  But, the WaPo article gets at an important lens on this, students who start but don’t finish.  Useful report on that from CCA here as well (pdf).

2 Replies to “Dropping Out With Debt”

  1. I think one of the biggest reasons so many kids drop out of college is that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I teach HS seniors and this time of year they are all measuring for their caps and gowns and getting ready to graduate. It is really tragic how little choice we give these kids other than to simply move on into college.

    Everything in HS these days is about “college readiness” From the required curriculum to the standardized testing to the way the counseling offices are organized. Kids really hear nothing else. There is a massive structure pushing them along into college of some sort that most just go along for the ride for a lack of anything else to do. A huge number just drift along into the local community college to “get their requirements out of the way” with the vague idea of transferring to a 4 year school down the road. More often that not it never happens and they drift off into something else.

    The ONLY other organization that steps up and lays out an alternative career path for these kids is the military. This being Central Texas, a good number do chose that path. The kids who don’t chose college or military really have no other organized and supported career path laid out for them except to continue with that fast food or mall job they are currently doing and……????

    If you want to reduce the number of kids dropping out of college with big loan burdens, stop pushing so many of them into college in the first place. Let’s start developing more trade and apprenticeship type career pathways so they actually have something else structured to do. Germany and other European countries are MUCH better at this than we are here in the US were “no child is left behind” and everyone is college material.

  2. It’s graduation season and while the news is full of depressing stories of young adults with few job prospects, planning to move back in with parents after graduation, the statistics show an improvement.

    According to the Associated Press, the unemployment rate for college grads under 25 is lower in 2012 (so far) than in either 2010 or 2011 (ABC News). Perhaps the clouds are clearing for graduates – at least for those who complete their degree by age 25.

    Of the over 19 million college students in the U.S., though, about 40% are attending part time. Of the almost 7 million attending community college, it is anticipated that fewer than half will complete an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year university within six years of enrollment. (US News & World Report; Institute for Education Sciences)

    This brings us to the question – who is graduating? Estimates show that in the U.S. this year, over 3 million will graduate high school or earn a GED, over 700,000 will complete an associate’s degree, and over 1.7 million will complete a bachelor’s degree. That’s a lot to celebrate, especially when you know the odds that many of them have had to overcome just to get to school every day.

    On the Benevolent site (www.benevolent.net), we feature many people who are pursuing degrees – associate’s, bachelors, certifications – and each one faces incredible challenges along the way towards those goals. Almost none of them reflect the stereotype of the 21-year-old fresh-faced graduate, ready to take on the world. They look like Jean, a 42 year old nursing student who recently interned for the Transit Authority cleaning trains.

    They also look like Samantha who is married, works full time as a home visiting aide and goes to community college in the evenings. Despite her young appearance, Samantha is a 26-year-old mother of a three-year-old.

    Benevolent’s students are mothers and fathers. They’re studying to be nurses and radiology technicians. They’re studying criminal justice and business. They’re going to school part time while working full- or part-time. They’ve survived cancer, domestic violence, homelessness, and more. They’re not the students the headlines and stories focus on when they’re pondering the fate of this year’s class of graduates.

    For us here at Benevolent, these are the learners and strivers with whom we’re most concerned. When a low-income parent succeeds in improving his or her education, getting a better job, and finding increased stability, then the children in that household will have vastly improved chances of achieving in their own rights and landing in a more stable circumstance. When we help adult learners succeed, we help more than one generation of students — and those triumphant graduations, for us, will have twice the weight.

    – megan kashner, founder & ceo

    Recently launched, http://www.Benevolent.net is a nonprofit website that utilizes a social media model to connect people who face hurdles along their paths to stability with people who want to help. Unlike traditional giving, Benevolent provides a platform for direct personal connection between individuals coupled with the security of a trusted validation process.

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