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Report Finds Millions Start College, But Never Finish

Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 3:10 PM

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Photo courtesy of J.o.h.n.Walker/Flickr.

For the past 20 years, more than 31 million Americans started college, but never walked across the stage to grab a diploma, according to a recent report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. StateImpact Ohio's Amy Hansen tells us what one expert says could be done to help remedy that number.

The group’s executive research director, Doug Shapiro, said there’s a growing national push to get more students to finish college.

But he said that won’t happen by strictly focusing on students right out of high school.

Instead, Shapiro said the report’s data points to a group universities should focus on: the nearly four million adults who have completed roughly two years of courses, but have put their education on hold for a handful of reasons.

“They had to take a job to save up more money for tuition,” said Shapiro. “Perhaps they’re stopping out for employment or family reasons or for military service, all sorts of reasons that students will stop out, and then come back on their own, sometimes two or three times.”

The report refers to that group as “potential completers”.  Most are under the age of 30 and have been out of college for up to six years.

Shapiro says universities can better connect with those students by streamlining credit transfers or offering flexible classes combining both in-person and online learning geared towards working adults.

Not earning a degree can prove to be a costly decision. The income of the average bachelor’s degree recipient is more than $16,000 higher compared to those who have completed some college, but don’t have a degree. 

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