Some Reasons for Poor College Graduation Rates and High College Debt
Updated: Jan 9
Today nationwide there are 70 million jobs available with 75% requiring a 4-year degree. Unfortunately, according to www.texasaspires.org only 22% of today's 8th graders will meet the need. That is why Texas Higher Education adopted the 60x30TX plan.
My experience as a College Planning Advisor has included interviewing over a hundred parents, dealing with College and Career Counselors at every High School in Ellis County and some in lower Dallas County which has led me to the conclusion that High School policies are an obstacle. I began this journey by joining the leading college planning service in the country, College Planning Network and its partner company Strategic Education Technologies. My views are supported by my training, experience and research that can easily be supported by googling the appropriate questions.
“It’s not just about getting them in the door. It’s about making sure they come back from one year to the next,” said Eboni Zamani-Gallaher, a professor of higher education policy, organization and leadership at the University of Urbana-Champaign College of Education. “That’s the conundrum we still haven’t gotten figured out yet.” I believe a big part of the conundrum is the failure of the school in educating the parent beginning in Kindergarten on how to pay for the ever-increasing cost to educate their child and working with the parent to develop the students passion." The school system does a good job of preparing the student to enter college or trade school but does not educate the parent on how they are going to pay for post-secondary education, how the college financial game works or providing students necessary coaching to complete college in 4 vs 6 years which normally happens because the student doesn't know their passion.
The low retention statistics for colleges and the increased need for today’s job market requirements of 65% of graduates in Texas needing a post-secondary degree is the reason the Dallas County Promise was started last year. While the number of students has been rising, however, so has the proportion who begin as full-time freshmen but fail to come back for a second year. More than 80 percent of today’s high school graduates go to college within eight years of graduating and almost half of all college students go to community college. Unfortunately, 42% of students who start college with the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree still do not have one six years later. Only 46% of students who enter community college with the goal of earning a degree or certificate have met their goal six years later even with the STEM program.
Dr. Eric J Ban, the Managing Director of the Dallas County Promise, stated at the 2018 Impact Summit that the leading challenges that students face as they transition through higher education are three. First is the affordability and financial issues, second students need help or coaching with moving through a complex post-secondary process and third is the changes needed in colleges addressing the changing cultural and workforce accountability challenges required to succeed in a constantly changing job market and society. I have also found these to be the biggest concerns expressed in parent interviews who have a child within 2 years of high school graduation.
High School policies do not allow for educating parents on having a plan on how to pay for college, continual assessments to make sure students are on the right career path and then getting into the right school or trade school that will provide the most financial aid. They are not able to tell you where to situate a families income and assets to get the most financial aid and receive the additional counseling needed because of the shortage of overwhelmed High School counselors. They can provide a step by step plan to get through high school but not to college graduation where most students drop out.
School Boards and their policies talk about community and business collaboration but many fall short when opportunities are provided to partner with them from my experience. If they continue to keep in place barriers between the parents and students from proven community services that counsel families, I believe the statistics will continue to fall short of needed improvements that are promoted by the 60X30Tx Plan.
Today a parent must have a goal of helping their child get a post-secondary education to succeed in today’s economy. Every Texas child, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code, deserves a quality education. In pursuit of a stronger Texas we advocate for policies that provide local communities with the tools necessary to improve our schools, involve parents and educators, and create meaningful improvements in the classroom. Above all, Texas Aspires advocates for education policies that focus on students first. That is also the purpose of Texas College Planning Advisors.
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