Drop-Out Prevention and Alternatives for At-Risk College Students

February 11, 2022 Watermark Insights

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 environments 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 of 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 its Consumer 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 them to understand the consequences of that choice. Set limits and let them know that you won't be able to take care of them for the rest of their life. Set a deadline for finding a job or enrolling in college classes again or a vocational/technical program, and hold them to it.

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