Most institutions of higher ed go to great lengths to improve the completion rate of its enrollment. The institutions are neither callous, cynical or indifferent. Here's a list of some of the ways they try to catch students before they fall out of college:
- Remediate their reading and writing skills if they are below college level competencies
- Provide freshman courses in study skills and other practices for success in college
- Accommodate changing majors if their first choice proved to be too stressful, demanding or boring
- Allow failing grades to be replaced by taking the course again with a different instructor
- Make arrangements to change roommates or living quarters if the current accommodation is counter productive
- Provide RA's, TA's, peer mentors and tutors to work with students on issues haunting them
- Offer athletic facilities and other amenities for reducing stress and taking minds off of school work
- Provide professional counseling if problems with anxiety, sleep loss, depression are getting worse
- Offer financial aid if the burden of making tuition and fee payments becomes unmanageable
- Allow changing to part time enrollment to lower the cost per semester and to provide additional income
- Allow students to take more than the 2 or 4 years to complete the degree program
- Permit students to go on academic leave to sort out what they really want and to gain a different perspective
In spite of all these efforts, 1.2 million students become new college dropouts each year. Perhaps it's not higher ed's problem. What-if the community around higher ed helped out here. The higher ed space is surrounded by other spaces that it dances with and feeds. The 1.2 million is an insignificant space compared to it's competition for attention, resources and responsive solutions. This picture has been a source of inspiration for my development of a model to give college dropouts a second chance.
Each of the surrounding spaces except the dropouts already give money to the higher ed space. Each benefits from the knowledge, skills and credentials that higher ed puts into their own spaces. Each could not do what they do without college educations un
der the current range of post secondary educational alternatives. All are in a position to get impacted by the college dropout problem directly or indirectly. If the dropouts were not stigmatized as "losers lacking in self discipline", each of the surrounding spaces could help alleviate the problem one way or another.