Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
As college tuition continues to climb locally and nationally, new data has revealed that time, not the price of higher education, may be the main deterrent to college completion. According to a 2009 Public Agenda study, less than a quarter of U.S. college students attend full time at residential schools and, instead commute to campus, balancing jobs, school and often family demands.
With these changes, it is no wonder why it takes longer for students to graduate. It is also no wonder that, as time goes on, life and the additional money spent on college causes an increase in dropout rates. Another study by the National Center for Education Statistics reports that less than half of U.S. college students will graduate after 6 years.
While we continue to look at college achievement, we must also look at ways we can cut the time college students are spending going to school. To do this, we need to assess what are the greatest obstacles to college graduation. Whether it be the failed remediation programs that waste time and money; broken policies that make it hard for students to transfer credits; or a lack of structured curricula that allow students to lose their focus on major-oriented class work. The United States once led the world in higher-education attainment; we must do everything we can to reach the top again.
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