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Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Why Do Students Drop Out of 4 Year Colleges?

From guest blogger Sarah Scrafford:

Why do College Students Drop Out?

It’s an irony of sorts – almost every high school kid dreams of going to college, but once that dream is realized, they end up crushing it beneath their feet by dropping out even before they get through their freshman year. And the surprising (and sad) part of this dropout saga is this – that most freshmen and sophomores who drop out have a history of being high achievers in high school with no problem whatsoever breezing through tests and assignments. Admitted, college is a tough ask for a kid who’s leaving home for the first time, especially for someone who’s moving far away from home or from a small town to a big city. And so we have the reasons why America is a nation of dropouts:

• Nothing in their schooling experience prepares high school graduates to handle the workload in college once they get there and see what’s expected of them.
• They are homesick and miss their parents and old friends, and as a result, tend to either withdraw into an antisocial shell or go back home to an environment that’s familiar to them.
• The price of college is too high to bear; rising tuition costs and the daunting prospect of having to repay loans are major dampeners to graduating from college.
• There’s the tendency to party till they drop and enjoy the freedom that college affords without bothering too much about the academic aspect. This leads to poor performances in the classroom and in tests, a continuation of which leads to no other option but to drop out.
• Some students make the mistake of choosing the major that’s wrong for them and pay the heavy price of having to drop out of college altogether because they’re not able to cope.
• Others are forced by circumstances beyond their control – like family emergencies – to drop out.

Institutions over the country are now waking up to the fact that something needs to be done to reduce the number of dropouts before it’s too late. An educated workforce is what this nation needs, and colleges are the starting point that helps meet that end. And so we have survival courses for freshmen that show them the ropes of adjusting to the demands of college, of learning to manage their time effectively, of managing finance and health aspects, of being responsible for themselves, of coping with homesickness, and of the importance of according priority to academic coursework. Educators are also advocating bridge programs in high school that will prepare students for college by showing them what to expect when they get there and how to cope with the various pressures they are bound to face. Time will tell if these measures succeed!


This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the subject for kaplan university review She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:

Copyright 2006 My College Puzzle