According to a Harvard University study, 70% of high schoolers attend college with in two years of graduation. Considering that over half of all jobs in this country require at least some college education, and considering that people with education no higher than high-school have fallen below middle class, 70% of college enrollees from high-school seems like a good statistic. Sadly, the Harvard study reports that 56% of students entering a 4-year college will graduate within 6 years, and less than 30% of students at a community college will obtain an associate’s degree within three years. It appears that the most likely time for students to drop-out of college is between their freshman and sophomore year- 30% of students drop out over the course of their first year. Below are some tips to help you succeed in college, and avoid becoming a drop-out statistic!

Pick a college that cares.

Remember when you are touring and researching schools you should get the impression that the school is trying to sell to you. You will be paying them a lot of money, and if you have the qualifications to be accepted for enrollment, then you should get the feeling that the school is trying to “woo” you. A college that doesn’t seem like they care whether or not you decide to enroll is less likely to care if you drop out. When touring a school, or corresponding with admission departments, a good question to ask is what is their retention rate. Retention rate refers to how many freshman end up earning a degree. Schools keep track of this, so if the tour guide or employee you ask doesn’t know the retention rate, be sure to follow up and get your answer. Typically schools with more rigorous entrance standards have an 80-90 percent retention rate (Harvard’s retention rate is 97% just to give you an idea).

Also, when considering what college to enroll in, research the support resources each school offers. It is becoming a trend for colleges to offer educational coaching if you need academic support. Some schools have small advisory groups that meet on a regular schedule which are grouped by similar majors of study. Extra support programs like these that are embedded with in a college are a sign that the school wants to keep students from dropping out.

Take Time-management seriously.

By the time you are a high school senior you have probably heard the phrase “time-management” so many times that you want to bang your head on your desk, but in college time-management is no joke. In college, a student who is an effective time-manager is 9.99999 times out of ten going to be a successful student. Often times I work with students who come out of high school with never having practiced time-management skills because high school was easy for them. They could study the night before and get an “A” without breaking a sweat. This kind of raw intelligence doesn’t work the same in college. Some classes require that for every hour spent in class, 2 hours should be spent outside of class studying the material. Students who are working to pay for tuition while currently enrolled can become overwhelmed if they don’t manage their time well. The never-ending social events can also take up time. There are sporting events, parties, meals with friends, and weekend trips. The social scene is a huge part of the college experience, but it can take over all your time if you’re not careful, and your grades are sure to pay the price.

Know what kind of student you are, and pick a school that caters to your “type.”

Do you have a learning disability? Do you have a chronic illness? Do you need a sober-living environment? Are you much older than a traditional student? Do you have kids? Are you from a social-economic background that statistically struggles in college? When considering what college to attend, research the groups/ clubs on campus. Maybe you are Hispanic, and the school has a Hispanic club. Maybe you have kids, and there is a daycare near the school. Maybe you have a history of substance abuse, and the school offers substance-free apartments. These are important aspects to consider if you feel you are in any way a “non-traditional” student.

Do financial research.

School is expensive! Be sure to fill out the FAFSA in order to get financial aid. There are a lot of resources available, especially for non-traditional students. Also research your area of study. How likely is it that you will get a job after graduation with your major? Some “in demand” jobs, or government jobs can pay some or all of your student loans once you are employed.

Have goals that are meaningful to you.

For most students, college is a time of change and immense personal growth. If you start attending school because your parents really want you to become a doctor, but you find after your freshman year that the medical path is not for you, what motivation do you have to continue school? The students I know who have been the most successful in school are driven by a distant career goal that is important to them. These students find the material in their classes fascinating, and are willing to go through years of hard work in school to achieve their professional goals. This is a key to successes in college.

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