I am not one to always follow the statistics of one study or another, but there are often some findings, reports and articles that jump out from a page and entice me to read them. For instance, this is the Atlanta Journal Constitution headline that grabbed my attention today: “40% of Georgia college students don’t finish…”
Of course this would interest me because I have a daughter who just completed her freshman year at Georgia College & State University and, to top it off, she is a chemistry major, which is a program that has a high drop-out rate. Amber says she knows a few people who have dropped that major since last semester. The two main reasons she’s heard for dropping out are 1) the student doesn’t like the subject as much as they thought they would and 2) the subject is too hard. She mentioned one student who dropped the major because he got a C in last semester’s class.
What can leaders – parents, administrators, mentors, advisors – do to decrease the number of college drop outs and the number of those who give up on their chosen major? When I posed this question to Amber she said she doesn’t have an answer because she thinks the people in positions of authority are doing everything they can. The students should, she says, simply take the advice of those put in the positions to help them.
Amber gave the following example: A young lady she knows apparently had some type of issue in her chosen major (whether it was with an individual, the program or a specific class is unclear) and instead of discussing it with her department head, advisor, professors or mentor she changed her major from biology to French.
Is it as simple as Amber makes it sound? Does the answer to reducing the overall drop out and failure rate lie in the students’ hands? If that’s the case then all they need to do is implement the advice given by those with more experience. I would say: yes and no. The responsibility is with the parents long before the student arrives at a university.
We must teach our children key points to assist them on the road to their goals. Here are two things that readily come to mind:
Research. It seems obvious, but I think some are missing a step: before delving into anything you must know if you’ll like it or not. That involves reading about the subject; conversing with those who are already doing it (Want to be in the band? Talk to a member. Thinking about pursuing a medical degree? Chat up your pediatrician.); and generally exhausting every resource to learn all you can.
Respect (trust?) adults/authority. I’ve noticed that many young people today (boy, that makes me sound old) have not been taught to respect adults and those in authority. If you have a student who doesn’t seem open to your advice as their parent, what makes you think they’ll be open to the advice of another person of authority? I believe my daughter is able to accomplish more on her own because she takes the information received from others, compares it with her goals and what she thinks along with the advice that I’ve offered then comes to a conclusion based on input and how it works with what she’s trying to accomplish.
Obviously I’ve taken a position that parents can make a difference in the drop-out rates if they teach their children certain skills at an early age – this is just the tip of the melting iceberg. How else can a change be made if we continually shirk our responsibilities and look to others for the solution to the problem? I’d like to know your thoughts…
First-time college mom
Petula Wright has about 17 years experience as an editor and writer who has written and provided editorial services for publications, organizations and individuals. Based in the Atlanta area, she continues to write web content and maintain her blog It’s a woman’s world at PetulaW.com. She says, “Writing is a joy and not a job.” If you need a writer or editor, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.