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May 28 2019

College Dropout Rates Driving Factor Toward Adopting “Adversity Scores”

by Betsy Pearson

May is graduation month for many college students across the country. Graduates are packing up to leave their college towns and entering the workforce with fresh college degrees and mounds of student loan debt. But, what happens to the students that never make it to the graduation ceremony?

According to a study between The New York Times and the Urban Institute’s Center on Education and Data Policy, we have a college dropout crisis: one in three students never earn their degree. This holds true across the nation with similar student body demographics, but varies between schools--size of the school, facilities available, and location do not determine graduation rates. This suggests it is each unique university ecosystem that propels students to success, or sets them up for failure.

Leaving college without a degree affects millennial college dropouts the most. Without adequate workforce experience and without a diploma these ex-students will have a hard time finding a job, let alone paying any student loan debt they have incurred during their time at school.

To add insult to injury, the lower income students who dropout still incur debt and have harder times paying it off because they don’t have the degree. Catherine Suitor, the Chief Advancement Officer at a network of charter schools in Los Angeles, Alliance, states that “A bachelor’s degree is the single most influential determinant in multigenerational change and ending the cycle of poverty.”

This is part of the reason why so many on the left have started pushing the so-called “adversity” scores. Designed to give students from lower socioeconomic status a boost in college admissions, the new patronizing program could actually harm the same disadvantaged students. IW’s Charlotte Hays took note of Lionel Shriver's argument in that in reality these scores penalize families who overcame adversity—and worked hard towards economic prosperity—before college enrollment.

What can universities do to help financially challenged students graduate? A costly factor in graduation success is housing. The NYT and Urban Institute study shows that the more on-campus housing available, the higher the graduation rates.

Schools should focus their spending on what students need. This is a win-win for both the universities and the students. Dropping out of college is never an easy choice, it is influenced by family, friends, and the cost of it all. If at all possible, I urge students who question their ability to stick it out for a four year degree to look at trade schools instead, which have a much lower dropout rate.

 




Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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