From Diplomas to Dropouts

College grad rates are down as high school grad rates climb


Annalee Gorman, Mirada Staff

For the past seven years, the high school graduation rate in California has been rising under new circumstances such as an increased focus on students.

About 83.7 percent of teenagers graduate high school in California compared to the national average of 84 percent. High school students feel as if they are receiving more help and attention to get the results they need.

Teachers spend more time reviewing coursework to prepare their students for the future. California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson works hard to increase the success of students.

Although high school completion rates are improving, college dropout rates are increasing. High school dropout rates are often scrutinized more than college.

Meanwhile, dropping out of college or taking the six year track is becoming the new normal. From expenses to lack of preparedness, students find themselves unable to complete their education.

A possible explanation for the lack of preparedness is the rush to increase graduation rates. Teachers and districts hope to assist the students in any way. Including lowering the requirements to give a student a diploma.

Some states decrease the amount of classes necessary to graduate. These requirements are even lower than necessary to apply to colleges.

Students who don’t obtain a high school diploma, however, aren’t set up for success.

Price, preparedness, and school size all contribute to college drop out rates.

Cal State schools fall behind the national average of 34 percent four year graduation rate. 64 percent of people graduate in six years increasing student debt by at least 70 percent.

Over half of UC students graduate within four years compared to the 34 percent of CSU schools. More selective schools like UC Berkeley have even higher four year graduation rates like 68 percent.

Bigger colleges have a large student body, therefore making it harder to get classes and give students more freedom for their schedule. Whereas, private institutions keep students on a four year track by deriving their funding from enrollment and give students the classes they need sooner.

A study done by Ed Source showed that 64 percent of students from public colleges, 66 percent of private non-profit, and 23 percent private of profit colleges graduate in six years.

At a smaller school, demands and frustrations can be met making it easier to graduate. More students can receive the help they require in a timely manner.

Additionally, some students feel they weren’t academically prepared for college or had to work during college to cover the costs. Students wind up burdened with debt and left with no other option than to drop out.

A National Student Financial Wellness Study which surveyed 18,795 students from 52 colleges and universities indicated that 70 percent of college students feel stressed about paying for it. 64 percent have to pay with loans using the maximum amount they can borrow each year.

It showed: “Nearly three out of 10 students said they reduced their class load because of the money they owed, while 16 percent took a break from their college or university and 13 percent transferred to another institution”.

With tuition on the rise, a concern for more dropouts emerges.

In California, a shocking 70 percent graduate or transfer from community college according to a study in April of 2018 by community college review. The completion of community college is the lowest in California, and serves a body larger than any UC or CSU.

Overcrowdedness results in less access to teachers, resources and getting the classes needed to get a degree.

Bill Gates addressed the situation to CNBC saying, “The U.S. has the highest college dropout rate. We’re number one in terms of the number of people who start college but we’re like number 20 in terms of the number of people who finish college.”

Preparing students for the rigor of college and debt control are only a few ways to increase the college graduate rate. Gaining awareness for college dropout rates will help to boost the rank of students completing college.