4 Reasons Most College Students Won’t Earn a Degree

Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner ·

As parents, most of us expect our children to go to High School, get good grades, go directly to college and earn their degree in 4-5 years. Although this thinking is logical, it often leads young adults down the wrong path. Did you know, only 34% of High School graduates actually earn a bachelor’s degree? More concerning is this fact; 51% of all young adults who attend college NEVER earn a degree!

Reasons why 51% never earn a degree include:

1) The cost of higher education is extremely high.

The total cost of getting a degree in 2010 was 4.5 times higher than the total educational cost in 1985. This is based upon inflation adjusted dollars. The financial burden on parents and students has more than quadrupled!

2) High School graduates lack the “occupational maturity” their parents or grandparents had.

In effect, they’ve usually had far less work experience than their predecessors upon graduation. Given this, it is difficult for them to understand the difference between good jobs and bad jobs. They simply don’t have enough experience.

3) Students lack direction.

Today’s parents, myself included, often tell their kids to “do what they love.” The problem is, they’re not really sure what they “love.” So why spend all the money on college if they don’t know what they “love.” I’ve changed my message to “do something you think you’ll like, and in a field where you’ll be able to get a decent paying job. If, after 2-4 years you don’t like the profession, return to school for a masters in something else.” This seems to have removed some of the confusion and angst.

4) Motivation is lacking.

This may have always been an issue for some that never graduate. However, if you see your college graduating siblings or friends getting very low paying jobs, what’s the motivation to go to college? More and more we’re seeing college graduates working in non-related industries making substandard wages. This won’t motivate their younger siblings and friends.

At EDSI, we’re advocating pre-college internships for High School graduates. Pre-college internships allow the young adults to earn money for college, gain maturity, and get real-world experience that provides much needed perspective regarding good careers, bad careers, good jobs and bad jobs.

We all need to rethink the preferred path for newly minted High School graduates. Gaining 2-3 years’ work experience before college may be extremely helpful both financially and emotionally. And by the way, pre-college internships look good on college applications and job resumes.

If you’d like to learn how to create a pre-college internship program for your high school or community, feel free to give us a call. We’d be glad to help.