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What can be done to prevent students from dropping out of college?


When we start our college journey, rarely do we even consider the possibility of dropping out. We’ve waited long enough for this opportunity and worked hard enough to get here — giving up is not an option! Unfortunately, no matter how motivated and ready one may be, only 58% of enrolled students actually graduate within six years. Why do students drop out of college?

The reasons vary greatly, but it’s most often due to financial issues, and sometimes it’s also due to personal reasons, such as work or family obligations.

If you’re considering dropping out of college, know that you are not alone, and that you should consider and understand all of your options in order to make the most well-informed decision.

Why Do Students Drop Out of College?

Students leave college for all kinds of reasons. In some cases, it’s a personal choice, and in other cases, people simply feel as though they have no choice due to their circumstances. Here are the most common reasons why the college dropout rate is so high.

1. Financial Reasons

Students are too often dropping out of college for financial reasons.

In many cases, students cannot afford to support themselves through school without working, and part-time hours is often not enough to cover the cost of school and living. Students often find college to be too expensive, and have other expenses and priorities such as families to support. Even with student loans, going to college can cause financial stress, making students feel as though they are better off dropping out of college to save money.

2. Other Common Reasons

While financial issues are probably the most common reason for dropping out of college, every student has their own reasons.

Some unfortunately have family issues, a lack of support, or unexpected medical problems that are beyond their control.

Other students find school to be too stressful and are not sufficiently prepared.

In some cases, students are unhappy with their path of choice and are bored with the coursework, finding their studies to be a waste of time.

Many students get frustrated with their studies and convince themselves that they don’t need a degree, and in turn, will end up dropping out before completing their studies.

The Pros & Cons of Dropping Out of College

College is not right for everyone. It differs from person to person, and what their career goals are exactly. Here are the pros and cons of dropping out of college. It’s important to fully understand the significance before making any decisions.


Dropping out of college does come with its advantages, such as the fact that it’s a chance to earn money rather than accumulating debt as you study, which is one of the major reasons why students drop out of school.

If you decide to drop out of school, it can also provide you with a chance to explore your interests, find out what exactly makes you happy, and what the best way to pursue your career is — it doesn’t necessarily have to be through formal college studies. It can offer an opportunity to explore all of your different learning options, such as trying out different courses and workshops as well.


Just as dropping out of college has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. For starters, if you drop out of college, you won’t have a degree in your hands or any kind of recognized credential to show for yourself.

If you took out student loans you will have to pay them back regardless if you finished your studies or not, and if you do decide to return to school later on in life, it may be harder. Your responsibilities and family obligations will only increase.

A student who decided to stay in college and complete his studies

Photo by Stefan Lorentz from Pexels

What Can be Done About the Increasing College Dropout Rate?

If you’ve weighed out all of your options and decided that college isn’t right for you at the moment, then that’s ok! No one is here to judge you and tell you how to live your life.

But if you are choosing to drop out of college because of your circumstances and feeling as though you have no choice, then it’s important to know that you have options before you make that final decision — especially if you’re dropping out of college for financial reasons.

1. What Can Parents Do?

As a parent, it’s important that you communicate with your children. Your children should always feel comfortable to approach you about what they are going through. As a parent, you are one of the most powerful tools to help your child understand their career options and help them figure out what path will be best for them to get there. Be involved in your child’s education and be as supportive as possible.

If your child expresses wanting to drop out of college, it can be helpful to encourage them to take a break or a gap year. Taking some time off rather than dropping out completely can be a good compromise, offering them the chance to take the time to figure out what they really want.

Even suggesting a different degree or college such as University of The People, a tuition-free online university, can be a great idea for a more realistic way to complete their studies without the same kind of stress.

A University of the People student who decided to complete her degree online rather than dropping out

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

2. What Can Colleges Do?

In order to prevent the college dropout rate from increasing, colleges can consider the option of lowering their tuition costs, or perhaps offering more scholarships so those who demonstrate financial need.

Offering online courses is also a way to make studies more accessible for all students, giving them the chance to work at the same time and build their own schedule.

Colleges should also be offering students on-campus support and counselling, in order to understand what students are going through, and provide them with solutions. If a student is struggling with their classes, a service such as subsidized tutoring can make a huge difference.

The college should also establish a connection with the student’s parents to fully understand their situation, and how they can help.

3. What Can Students Do?

If a student is struggling, it’s important that they seek the help they need and look into all the different options offered by their college, whether it be a counselor, an advisor or into different programs and plans.

If a student is struggling to pay their way through college, they can look into changing their student loan plan, such as deferring.

It can be beneficial to look into different, more realistic ways to complete their studies, such as University of the People, which offers students the option to study remotely and at their own comfort. Not only does an online university allow students to work as they study, but also as a tuition-free university, University of the People removes the financial strain of obtaining a degree.

Before you make any decision of whether or not to drop out of college, make sure that you’ve explored all of your options and understood what will be best for you not only on a short-term basis, but also for your future.