It’s that time of the year when recent graduates are celebrating their hard work and planning the next steps in their journey - it's an exciting time for students and families. But what about all the students who didn't graduate on time, or at all? Why are there so many students dropping out before graduation day?
Only 10 percent of students graduate from San Jose State University in four years. Ten percent. Marcos Pizarro, a professor at SJSU, believes there is more to the problem than a lack of motivation. He interviewed hundreds of students to find out exactly why so few students actually graduate.
Pizarro interviewed mainly Latino and African-American students, initially finding that many of these former students blamed themselves for failing to graduate. But the more he spoke with students, the more he found that they were not necessarily the ones to blame. Students were motivated to finish school, but they didn't have the resources to know exactly how to make that happen.
One student explained that he never knew exactly how college worked and that he didn't have a mentor to explain things like planning out classes. Others shared that they had trouble setting up meetings with advisors and registering for required classes. A lot of these students worked multiple jobs to pay for their tuition, taking up time and energy that could've been devoted to their education. Many felt like they were never fully part of the campus community.
The Family Income and the College Completion Gap study found that lower graduation rates of students with low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds can't be fully explained by lack of academic preparation. Academically strong students from low-SES backgrounds are still much less likely to graduate from college than students of similar or even lower academic ability from high-SES backgrounds.
So what is the reason for the high dropout rate? Students drop out of college because they do not have the resources they need to complete their degree. Resources about financial aid assistance, advising, and registration are not universally accessible to all students; this is complicated problem with a simple solution.
Resources for a successful college experience can and should be available at students' fingertips. With text messaging, advisors and mentors can easily access students and provide valuable resources at the touch of a button, helping to guide students through the complicate processes of college.