Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Study: Why Do Students Drop Out?

Depression, a loss of financial aid, increased tuition, unexpected bad grades and roommate conflicts are among key risk factors that lead college students to drop out, according to a study led by Michigan State University researchers.

Not so influential: a death in the family, failure to get their intended major, a significant injury and addiction.

Prior to this work, little was known about what factors in a student’s everyday life prompt them to think about withdrawing from college,” Tim Pleskac, an MSU assistant professor of psychology and the lead researcher, said in a news release this afternoon.
The researchers used a mathematical model they created to analyze surveys from 1,158 freshmen at 10 U.S. colleges and universities, according to the release. In the surveys, which listed 21 critical events, students were asked whether any of the events happened to them in the previous semester. The students were later asked whether they planned to drop out.
We are now better suited to think about what students we should target in terms of counseling or other assistance to help them work through these issues,” Pleskac said.
Colleges across the country are grappling with how to address the needs of students who drop out.

Nationwide, just 60% of students earn an undergraduate degree within six years. In Michigan, there are wide ranges in graduation rates among the state’s 15 public universities. Graduation rates range from lows of 26% at LakeSuperior State University and 32% at Wayne State University to highs of 77% at Michigan State University and 89% at the University of Michigan.

The study was funded by the College Board and included researchers from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Rice University.