4 Tips to Minimize the Odds of Dropping Out of College

Many college students are dropping out of college.

Flickr user jon jordan

The statistics on college dropouts are alarming—about 45% of students who enroll in college end up dropping out of college without graduating. That’s a scary thought, especially when you consider the expenses they would have incurred towards the terms completed.

College tuition is expensive. For most students, the only way to afford a college education is by taking on student loans. These large loans are worth it only because they provide you with a gateway to better job opportunities and a higher earning capacity. However, if you take the loan but end up dropping out of college before you graduate, you will have acquired that huge debt for no reason. Worse still, there is no way you can wipe out this debt, not even by filing for bankruptcy. Regardless of whether or not you graduate from college, you will have to find a way to pay back every cent that you have taken as student loans.

Under these circumstances, it is advisable to give some thought to what it is that makes students decide to drop out and what you can do to minimize the odds of you becoming one of them.

Why Do Students Drop Out Of College?

Most students do not even think about the possibility of dropping out when they are applying to college. They send in their applications full of hope and enthusiasm and are 100% sure they will graduate. While many students do go on to fulfill their dreams of graduating, many others do not.

Not all students drop out for the same reasons. Every student will have their own set of circumstances that resulted in them taking this drastic step.

Some may drop out because they just cannot afford to continue paying the tuition even with loans, while others may drop out because of overwhelming family or personal issues. Still, others may decide to drop out either because they find themselves struggling to cope with the rigorous academic program or because they cannot adjust to college life.

The reasons may differ but the end result is the same—when dropping out of college without graduating, you are saddled with a huge debt that has done nothing to help you in any way.

The big question then is what can you do to avoid becoming one of those dropout statistics? These few tips can help you minimize the odds of becoming a college dropout.

#1 – Explore Your Interests, Goals & Expectations

Attending college is a huge investment of time and money. Before you start sending out your applications, it is well worth spending some time exploring your interests, goals, and expectations.

What are your long term career goals? What do you see yourself doing after graduating from college? You may want to become a doctor but are you prepared to make the commitment of long years of rigorous study? Some careers may seem glamorous but you must be prepared to put in the hard work required to get there.

Applying to college for the right reasons and being sure about your commitment towards your long term goals are important.

#2- Do Extensive Research Before Applying

If you are sure you are applying to college for the right reasons, it is time to start looking for the right college. Here are just a few important criteria to keep in mind:

  • It offers the academic program that you are interested in
  • It offers you a level of competition that is right for you and will allow you to extend yourself and thrive
  • You are comfortable with the faculty, facilities, and ambiance of the college

#3 – Understand Your Financial Obligations

One of the most common reasons why students drop out of college is because they underestimate how must it is going to cost them from the time they enroll to the time they graduate.

It cannot be said enough times—college is expensive. Before you send out your application, it is crucial to understand how much it is going to cost you to attend that particular college. Can you afford the COA or Cost of Attendance, which includes the tuition, living, boarding, textbooks, and all other program fees without stretching your family finances to breaking point? Have you applied to as many scholarships as possible? Have you looked into all avenues of financial aid?

Do all the calculations to determine what the true cost of attendance will be and discuss this cost with your parents. If you arrive at a figure that is way higher than your available resources, you must think carefully about whether it is worth getting into that much debt. The more overwhelmingly high the cost of attendance, the more likely you are to give up and drop out of college. Unfortunately, this is a lose-lose situation as you only end up acquiring more debt.

#4 – Be Realistic

College life is not smooth sailing, no matter what you hear to the contrary. There are going to be obstacles along the way. You may fall ill, get overwhelmed, or feel homesick. You may find yourself struggling with classwork, homework, time management issues or staying organized. At some point, you may want to give it all up and go home.

Don’t make any rash decisions just because things are not going so well for you. Be realistic. These are things that can happen to anyone anywhere. The key is to find someone you can speak to. Speak to your professor if you need additional help or clarification regarding any coursework. Seek out a teacher, advisor, mentor, or another student for advice on personal matters. The designated dorm Resident Assistant will be only too happy to help resolve any conflicts in the dorm.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Letting problems simmer without any resolution only makes things seem worse than they really are.

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