Why do students drop out of college?

Just 10% of students will graduate from San Jose State University in four years. Only 4.5% of Latino students graduate in four years. You read that right.  Out of 100 students who start college only 10 will graduate and only 4 will be Latinos.  

The common refrain is that these students are not academically prepared, they have many commitments, or they lack the financial resources. But even when you hold for these factors, the drop out rate remains high. 

One San Jose State University teacher looked further. Why do students drop out of college? He decided to ask them.  What he found:

A lot of times their first response is, 'Oh well, I kinda gave up.' Or, 'I didn't try hard enough,' " says Pizarro.
Basically, these former students blamed themselves.
But there was more to it.
"Then we ask specific questions," explains Pizarro. "And they say, 'Oh yeah, well, I couldn't get classes for like two semesters. Yeah, and I couldn't meet with an advisor.' "
What emerged from these interviews were real institutional barriers.
And there was one final problem: The dropouts never felt part of the campus community.

Belonging is a huge factor in student success. There is insightful research out of Stanford by Professor Greg Walton that explores how belonging can be influenced. 

At Gainful we believe a student's sense of belonging can be influenced by proactive communication and conversational support. Our college partners are seeing the effects. Conversation promotes trust and trust is the foundation for a relationship. Colleges can create ongoing, meaningful relationships with their students. Gainful can show you how.

Poor Me?

Let me give you a sense of how I view articles on poor college students. I was poor and with the added burden of being without family attending an elite private college - Stanford University. While I had scholarships and loans they didn't cover all the costs of attending college.  I literally had zero family support, so that meant that I had to take care of everything - a lot of things that are not covered by scholarships.  Things like transportation, clothes, medical care (campus clinics are accessible but they still cost), phone, etc.  You get the picture.

So money was very tight.  So tight that even though I was working several jobs at the same time to make ends meet, there were several occasions where I could only afford a snicker bar for food.  But did my classmates know that?  Not a chance.

I was not the first to go through this and today's students, unfortunately, will not be the last. Some of us have to work harder to get where we want to go and to stay there, but that doesn't mean others don't have to work hard in their own right. They just have to work harder for other things. Like feeling self-respect. I knew a lot of trust fund babies who felt dis-empowered because they never had to earn a thing in their life - it made them question their abilities. I've never had that problem.

I've also met folks who had everything covered for them from the get go, only to lose their money or their family to lose its money later in life and then have to learn how to budget in their 30s. It's not pretty.

I've also met people who never had to worry about money and still don't have to and likely never will.

I've gone from poor to expensive vacations to a monthly budget because I want the freedom to pursue my ideas and not have to make money to support a certain lifestyle. It's a never-ending relationship with money.

What matters is how you frame that relationship.  Are you ashamed or do you recognize your financial state as just that - a state - one that will change over time?  Guess which frame is easier to live with.