California’s college dropout rate is much higher than the national average, according to a 2022 study from Education Data.
Data shows that nationally 32.9% of undergraduates drop out of college before completing their degree program. California residents are “46.5% more likely” to drop out of college compared to the average U.S. resident, according to the study.
People in California are also 33.6% more likely to be college students than people in other states, but with those higher attendance rates also comes higher dropout numbers.
According to the study, the age of the student attending matters.
Older students are more likely than younger ones to drop out. Just under a third of people who drop out of college in California are under 35 years old. However, 51.6% of California’s college dropouts are between 35 and 64 years old, and 18.2% are 65 or older.
Why students are dropping out of college
According to the study, financial sacrifice and stress related to it are some of the most common reasons cited for dropping out. Students who choose to complete school have to contend with higher tuition rates, currency inflation and a rising cost of living.
For some students, good financial aid is the difference between finishing college and dropping out. Some students also list losing aid or another source of income as a reason for dropping out.
Students may also come into college without the proper educational foundation to be successful there. Those problems are sometimes compounded by financial challenges or a lack of outside support.
Jennifer Sandoval-Dancs, Associate Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid at Claremont McKenna College, says that personal sacrifice impacts students heavily, “The more a student and their family sacrifice for them to be at college, the more the student will weigh the value or worth of their college experience against the losses,” she told KRON4.
One way that Sandoval-Dancs suggests for supporting students through challenging times is building a strong campus community from the start.
“Outreach efforts and ensuring that a student is connected to a faculty, staff, or student is critical. If the student is struggling in any capacity, it is important that they feel comfortable sharing their concerns and challenges with a member of the community,” Sandoval-Dancs said.
Economic Impact of College Dropouts
Higher dropout rates can influence many things such as the financial well-being of the colleges themselves, as well as surrounding communities. Colleges and universities also lost out on roughly $16.5 billion in tuition revenue from dropouts.
According to the study, college dropouts who have loans are four times more likely to default on their loans than students who graduate. Even worse, more than half of students who take on debt don’t go on to earn degrees, meaning they are now strapped with student loans and little to show for it.