May 2, 2016

What Happens to Students Who Drop Out of College?

Does Your Student Need a Degree?


Most parents fear their child dropping out of college in the same way they may fear their child ending up in jail on criminal charges. But dropping out is not the end of the world.

Students drop out of college for a number of reasons. Maybe they decided they weren’t ready for the work-load and needed some time to prepare. Eventually, they may return to college or choose a school better suited to them. Maybe they decided they wanted to join the work-force early, or had an idea to develop their own product or business and wanted to run with it.

Parents have to ask themselves: what is the point of a college education? If their child is happy and successful without a four-year degree, that is all that should matter.

consequences of dropping out of college
What happens to students who drop out of college?

The Numbers

The Hamilton Project states that workers with some college education earn $8,000 more per year and $100,000 more during their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree equals an additional $30,000 a year and $500,000 for life.

As of April 2013, people twenty-five and older with only a high school degree had an 11.4% unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for people with some college education was 6.6% and a bachelor’s degree was 5%.

One note of caution that dropouts who are loaded with debt are likely to struggle more to make ends meet even if they are able to find a decent job. Just another reason to make sure your student’s debt levels are reasonable as they enroll in college.

Is your student likely to be employed and make more money with a partial or complete degree? Yes, but it depends on the individual.

Not for Everyone

Is college + job = success and happiness the correct equation for everyone? Not for students who know their path and are ready for it upon high school graduation. Some students know what they want and need a degree to do it.

But what if your child doesn’t know? College is a discovery. The environment and classes will help him or her develop career goals. After a year or two, he may choose a major and pursue a career. Perhaps he’ll decide he doesn’t need a degree, is ready to work and gets down to it.

Besides, who’s paying for all this? The cost of a year of college for 2017-2018 (including room, board, and supplies) was $36,000 for public schools and $46,900 for private. The class of 2017 graduated with an average student debt of nearly $39,000. Would your child rather see a bill or earn a paycheck?

It may be scary to have a student drop out of college, but take a deep breath and know it’s not the end of the world. Some students follow a different path. Some students just need time to find out more about themselves.

Tips on College Completion

Generally, students who know more about themselves and what they want out of like are more likely to complete their degree on time.

Counter-intuitively, taking a year off between high school and college helps many students gain this insight and means they get better grades in college and are more likely to complete.

If taking a year off is not an option, have your student try to learn as much about themselves as possible before heading to school. This happens naturally when a student tries a lot of after-school activities, volunteers or works a part-time job.

At College Factual we encourage students to discover themselves: their strengths, passions, and interests and learn how that translates into college majors and eventually careers. A college degree should be a tool a student uses to achieve their goals, and indeed, a four-year degree may not be right for everyone.

Help your student start exploring their strengths and interests with Majors Matcher.

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