Most Washington students starting college don’t finish

Most Washington students starting college don’t finish

Most of my students plan to go to college and I have no doubt that many will be successful in that endeavor–getting into college. But getting in and getting the degree are two very different things. No one plans to drop out but, in fact, the college degree completion rate is only about 21% nationwide.

This article linked in the header of this post bemoans the fact that in WA “less than a third of Washington students who start college – either two- or four-year – actually finish.” But it perpetuates the myth (IMO) that EVERYONE needs/should go to college; indeed, the article points out that two-thirds of the jobs in WA by 2018 will require a college degree. So, I ask the question: what about the other 1/3 of jobs?

In my opinion, we are overselling the message about the “need” for a college education. But for those who plan to go to college, some thought should be given to these grim statistics which I have gleaned from a variety of sources:

  • 1 in 5 college freshmen actually complete a college degree
  • a bit more than 1 in 3 college freshmen will complete their degree in four years; 59% of the degrees earned take an average of 6 years
  • 2/3 of those finishing a degree rack up debt approaching $30,000 on average
  • I couldn’t find data on the debt owed by those who start but do not finish college

If you plan to go to college, great, but take into account that it takes more that great College Board and AP test scores and GPAs, it’s going to take sacrifice, hard work determination and a large bankroll.

In other posts I’ll address the more important strategy: developing a habit around lifelong learning.


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