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Dropouts Out of Necessity or Vanity?

Last week, Public Agenda and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a study, With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them, on why students drop out of college. The report, the first of a series of three, says their study found that students leave college for financial reasons, to work to support themselves or their families. Many survey respondents said they couldn’t afford to return to college even if their tuition and books were paid. The report also noted that the students may have not chosen the best college for them, as students who are financially independent have fewer resources to make these decisions, and that most don’t realize the impact dropping out will have on their lives.

These are interesting results, but commenters at Inside HigherEd had a different take when a brief article about the study was posted last week: While there are some students who definitely have financial need, some seem unable to discern between needs (food) and wants (dinners out).

At the Chronicle of Higher Education, some commenters also brought up the needs/wants argument; some wondered if some of these “dropouts” later return and finish their degree (the study was silent on this) and others said they saw these problems at their institutions.

What’s your take?

Emily Glenn

Emily Glenn is the ACUHO-I Corporate Librarian.

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