College dropouts face tremendous challenges: fewer job opportunities, lower earning ability and lower socio-economic status. According to a paper published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 47 percent surveyed say that dropping out of school made it hard to find a good job.
Those who graduate with a post-secondary degree earn on average nearly $20,000 more annually than those with a GED or high school diploma. Obtaining a diploma is the first and most important step on the road to opportunity. If you know how to find the right resources, there are alternatives available to at-risk students.
Preventing College Dropouts
It’s OK to reach out and look for help or options if your college student is in danger of dropping out. Many public, charter and private schools offer guidance counseling and resources for families in need.
- Tailor learning environment to student needs (different schools for different students): Not all people learn the same way. One reason many students cite for dropping out of school is the overwhelming change or the freedom is too much to manage. The online program at pennfoster.edu offers at-risk students with an alternative to traditional classroom settings. The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, dropoutprevention.org, is a good starting place to find alternatives to traditional universities. Your child may benefit from hands-on instruction, self-directed online instruction or another method of learning. Starting at a community college and living at home the first couple years can give your child a leg up in education and financial success.
- Look for career education programs: Job Corps (jobcorps.gov) is one source that offers free education and job training to low-income college students. Some school systems offer vocational training programs as alternatives to traditional college and university curricula. Before you enroll in a program, do a little homework to make sure it is reputable. The Federal Trade Commission offers guidelines for checking the backgrounds of these schools on itsConsumer Information page.
What If My Child Drops Out?
According to a 2011 Georgetown University study, professionals with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of 84 percent more than those with a high school diploma or GED. The study also estimated that 63 percent of jobs in America will require some sort of “post-secondary” education or training by 2018.
If your child drops out, work with him or her to understand the consequences of that choice. Set limits and let him or her know that you won’t be able to take care of him/her for the rest of his/her life. Set a deadline for finding a job or enrolling in college classes again or a vocational/technical program, and hold him/her to it.