Posted by: clholoman | August 22, 2011

Another reason student success matters

Interesting that this came across today; I was chatting with a faculty member this morning about the changing way faculty have to think about helping students. Most of us came up in a culture that said “College students are adults; they should be able to make their own decisions. If they make bad ones, like not coming to class, they will suffer the consequences. I shouldn’t have to hold their hand (i.e. take attendance) .”  As others have pointed out, this is analogous to teaching people to swim by throwing them in the deep end. In the analogy, presumably if someone started to drown, they would be rescued. Unfortunately, in education, that can’t be guaranteed; the student who drops out of college is saddled with debt, a sense of failure, and, frequently, simply falls through the cracks, unrescued.

Now, here’s another cost and it’s to all of us as taxpayers. I don’t think there’s anything earth-shattering here, just another reason to keep focussed on student success.

The report, “The High Cost of Low Graduation Rates,” was released by the American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group, and was written by Mark Schneider, a vice president at the institutes, and Lu Michelle Yin, a researcher there. The report estimates that of the 1.1 million students who entered college in 2002, nearly 493,000 failed to graduate within six years, causing them to earn much less than students who graduated and costing an estimated $4.5-billion in lost income and federal and state income taxes in 2010.

Lost income, a figure that affects GDP, accounted for $3.8-billion of that amount; $566-million was lost federal income taxes, and $164-million was income taxes that were lost by states. That lost income, Mr. Schneider emphasized, is money that dropouts will never earn back, and a net loss that is magnified year after year.

New York and California were the two states that lost the most in income taxes, missing out on an estimated $21-million and $24-million, respectively, according to the report. Ten states lost more than $5-million in income taxes. Residents in 14 states lost more than $100-million in total income, with residents of California, New York, and Texas losing out on more than $300-million in income.

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