Improving College Graduation Rates


If you are the parent of a college-bound high school student, how do you feel about these statistics? Only 53% of beginning college freshman graduate college in 6 years. Furthermore, only 39% of community college students ever graduate with any type of degree, two year or four year. Taking too long to graduate, or not graduating at all, is a major money-waster. Not only is it a waste of money already spent, but spending an extra year or two in college means possibly losing out on a good income which might have been earned during that extra time in school. Have the colleges failed our young adults?

Many Freshmen are away from home for the first time and have not yet reached a level of maturity required to live independently from parents or their usual support system. Thus, many of them leave after their freshman year or even before. In fact, about 35% of freshman students never return to the same college for their second year.

The result is that in addition to wasted funds, changing colleges can mean lost financial aid and course credits as well. I believe that much of this equates to colleges needing to do a much better job of acclimating young students into college life, who are often out of their comfort zones and the new found  independence (or loneliness) which that brings.

On the other hand a very significant reason for poor graduation rates is certainly due to families not selecting the right institution to begin with. The college admissions process is complicated and for many parents quite daunting. There is a widespread ignorance about college costs and the financial aid process, and the rules are frequently changing as well. A much more thorough schooling and discovery needs to be completed by parents and students.

Too much of the choice of college is made upon emotion such as which college has the top athletic teams, or best social life, or where is the girlfriend attending, or even parent legacy. The right college should be selected by considering all relevant criteria, such as distance from home, academic suitability, ability to pay, the financial aid package awarded and whether the student would fare better at a smaller college rather than at some large public institution where he can become easily lost or intimidated.

So yes, the colleges can certainly do more to help students remain for all four years, but families also must spend much more time investigating the suitability of many colleges. Choosing the right college for a family also means working together in partnership.

Save on College, have more for retirement!

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About Melvin Chilewich

Melvin Chilewich, JD, is a Registered Investment Advisor and Financial Services Professional who specializes in showing people a better way to save and accumulate money so that they can reach financial independence as quickly as possible. He also concentrates much of his time advising families and other professionals on how to maximize college financial aid and reduce out of pocket expenses. He believes that the cost of college today is quite daunting for parents and he teaches them how the financial side of the college admissions process works. He has saved families thousands of dollars on the cost of college. His philosophy: Save money on college, have more for retirement.

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