Education News – Post-secondary world plagued with high drop-out rate

HAMILTON (CUP) ? A recent study shows many students are dropping out of post-secondary institutes, and only a few are coming back.

Statistics Canada joined the Human Resources and Skills Department in a study tracking the educational pathways of 22,000 young adults. The six-year study began in 1999, when the subjects were between 18 and 20.

The results show that 15 per cent of students who attended a post-secondary institution dropped out before completion, and those students who chose to leave their respective schools more closely resembled those who initially decided against post-secondary.

The largest proportions of students leaving school were from Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia; the lowest proportion came from Prince Edward Island.

The students were more likely to be male, married, and come from families with lower levels of education. They were also more likely to have had lower grades and less involvement in high school.

Most started to consider dropping out in their first year of study.

The most frequent reasons cited for leaving school were to travel, to change institutions or programs, to take a break, or to work.

Only 10 per cent of the students who dropped out cited financial strain as the cause.

The survey differentiated between people who dropped out of school and people who quit school. The former returned to some sort of studies, while the latter become completely divorced from the post-secondary world.

Liz Marsden left Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario, where she was studying recreation and leisure, and transferred to Georgian College to pursue a business program.

?There were two main reasons, the first being the program. Coming out of high school, I didn’t really know for sure what I wanted to do. Recreation and leisure sounded interesting, so I decided on that. After some time in the program, I realized it definitely wasn’t for me. The second reason was the class size. Maybe It’s because of a certain type of learning style I have, but I cannot learn in a class with hundreds of students and where the teacher doesn’t know my name,? she said.

?In college, class sizes are smaller, much smaller?around 30 students. You get more one-on-one time with the teacher and get more personalized education,? she added.

She says her time in university did not set her back a year, but aided her in achieving her college diploma more quickly.

?With my year’s experience in university, I was able to put those credits towards my electives in the business program at Georgian College. I was able to fast-track through my program and obtained my business diploma in two years instead of three. I was able to secure a job right out of college thanks to the co-op program that was required through the program.?

The rate of students returning to post-secondary studies after dropping out is still quite high, depending on their reason for leaving.

For example, 68 per cent of students who left school to travel came back within two years, and 47 per cent who listed changing their school or program as their reason came back.

However, only 28 per cent who left to work, and 29 per cent who left because their grades were too low, returned. The survey did not specify whether the students returned to their original studies or new ones.

Leaving post-secondary education is often closely related to a student’s experience while attending an institution.

All students face the difficulties of adjusting to larger class sizes, heavier workloads, and the need to meet new people during their first year. If they are leaving home, they face new residences, new roommates, new rules, and new neighbourhoods, all while overcoming homesickness. Not everyone is cut out for the job.

On the bright side, Canada boasts the highest rate of post-secondary attainment in the world, and there has been a steady increase in college and university enrolment in recent years.

However, a discouraging factor in university attendance is the perceived uselessness of undergraduate degrees.

Newly graduated students often struggle to secure a well-paying job without pursuing a master’s degree or post-doctoral studies.

The survey showed 14.3 per cent of youth aged 22-24 earning the least amount of money had university degrees, while 12.8 per cent did not have high school diplomas.

That puts a higher percentage of university graduates than high-school drop-outs in the lowest salary bracket.

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