What Happens to Students Who Drop Out of College?

Does Your Student Need a Degree?

Most parents fear their child dropping out of college in the same way they may fear their child ending up in jail for criminal charges. But dropping out is not the end of the world.

Students drop out of college for a number of reasons. Maybe they decided they weren't ready for the work-load and needed some time to prepare. Eventually they may return to college or choose a school better suited to them. Maybe they decided they wanted to join the work-force early, or had an idea to develop their own product or business and wanted to run with it.

Parents have to ask themselves: what is the point of a college education? If their child is happy and successful without a four-year degree, that is all that should matter. 

The Numbers

The Hamilton Project states that workers with some college education earn $8,000 more per year and $100,000 more during their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. A bachelor's degree equals an additional $30,000 a year and $500,000 for life.

As of April 2013, people twenty-five and older with only a high school degree had an 11.4% unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for people with some college education was 6.6% and a bachelor's degree was 5%.

One note of caution that dropouts who are loaded with debt are likely to struggle more to make ends meet even if they are able to find a decent job. Just another reason to make sure your student's debt levels are reasonable as they enroll in college.

Is your student likely to be employed and make more money with a partial or complete degree? Yes, but it depends on the individual.

Not for Everyone

Is college + job = success and happiness the correct equation for everyone? Not for students who know their path and are ready for it upon high school graduation. Some students know what they want and need a degree to do it. Undergraduate and maybe graduate school are requirements.

But what it your child doesn't know? College is a discovery. The environment and classes will help him or her develop career goals. After a year or two, he may choose a major and pursue a career. Perhaps he'll decide he doesn't need a degree, is ready to work and gets down to it.

Besides, who's paying for all this? The cost of a year of college for 2013-14 (including room, board, supplies and transportation) was $23,410 for public schools and $46,272 for private, according to USA Today. The class of 2014 graduated with an average student debt of nearly $29,000. Would your child rather see a bill or earn a paycheck?

What's the Goal?

Since you first taught your kid to walk, feed himself and tie his shoes, the goal was to enable him to be independent. The goal has not changed, only matured.

Throughout your career, what has been your goal? To provide for your family, do the things you want and eventually stop working. How will your child achieve the same things?

Like writing a mystery, you need to build the plot backwards. Start at the finish. What will that look like? A well-funded retirement account, a dream home and the health to enjoy it?

Does your child have a vision? He should. He needs to know what he wants to achieve. When he is ready, he will go after it with passion.

Start With the End in Mind

At College Factual we encourage students to discover themselves: their strengths, passions and interests and learn how that translates into college majors and eventually careers. A college degree should be a tool a student uses to achieve their goals, and indeed, a four-year degree may not be right for everyone. 

Help your student start exploring their strengths and interests with Majors Matcher