Here's the secret: not everybody graduates. In fact, "a college can have a graduation rate as low as 2 percent and still preserve its accreditation".
In the Hidden Side of the College Dream, the University of La Verne's vice provost Beatriz Gonzales explains:
For these students, money is a huge roadblock to graduation.
“That is the No. 1 reason our students give when they drop out,” said Beatriz Gonzalez, vice provost for the University of La Verne.
Many of her students also work to support themselves or their families, she noted, so they tend to spend much less time on campus and therefore feel less attached to the university.
Another reason students drop out, Ms. Gonzalez said, is that they don’t feel sure they belong. For them, any setback or poor grade can make them question whether they should be in college in the first place.
More can be done and I believe technology can help. Text messages and chat can help colleges develop positive pro-active relationships with their students and help college students, including first generation students, feel like they belong.