Thursday, April 18, 2024

These Are the 10 Degrees With the Highest Dropout Rates

Shape up or ship out. 👋🏼

Unless you’re the next Bill Gates, dropping out of college can have a devastating impact on your career. 😅

And yet, 40 percent of students leave college before graduation, and half of them do so because they had chosen the wrong area of study. 

Don’t want to meet the same fate? Check out the 10 college degrees with the highest dropout rates to make a well-informed course decision.

1. Computer Science: 9.8 percent 💻

Experts suggest a lack of required skills and misguided perceptions about computer science are to blame for why smart, tech-savvy students suddenly drop out. 🧑‍💻

“People might really want to be a games programmer or something, but there’s a slight disconnect between playing a lot of computer games, and learning the skills needed to create those games,” says Meriel Huggard, who helped build a programming center at Trinity College. 

young-male-student-wearing-specs-looks-at-laptop-in-shock-holding-head
Lack of resources, support, and a high sticker price can be a deterrent for computer science aspirants. Photo: KamranAydinov/Freepik

The high cost of studying this major is another deterrent for most computer science aspirants. At over $25,000 a year in tuition for out-of-state students, a four-year degree could break the bank (or commit to some serious student debt). 😒

However, if you can overcome these barriers, computer science is one of the top college degrees with a high starting salary, and there is a demand for graduates in this field. 📈

READ MORE: 25 Best Computer Science Colleges to Get You Tech Success

2. Business: 8.6 percent 💼

Business is usually the path where people without college degrees become successful (and ridiculously rich)  — is that why so many business students drop out of college? 🤔

One reason for the high dropout rate is that more and more often in business, a Master in Business Administration (MBA) is becoming the standard. 

Class of university students using laptops during a lecture
Whether it is academic unpreparedness or the steep price tag, there are ample reasons why business students dropout of college every year. Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Taking this extra step means five years of studying with an incredibly steep price tag. In just over two years, MBA students can rack up debt and expenses between $100,000 and $200,000! 😮

Finally, business school is a marathon. 🏃 The workload, interview schedule, club activities, networking events, and everything else related to the course can be overwhelming for those who don’t pace themselves, so many students chose to opt out in favor of pursuing a different career. 

3. Advertising: 8 percent 🔊

If your idea of advertising comes from American shows (say, Mad Men, Thank You for Smoking, or The Pitch), you’re in for a rude awakening! 😓

Students drawn by these portrayals are surprised to learn the day-to-day work of an advertiser is less about high-stakes pitches and more about strategy, research, and collaboration. 🧠

An African-American female advertising specialist soothing her headache at work
Advertising students may find that the rigorous coursework isn’t what they signed up for and choose to explore other career paths. Photo: DCStudio/Freepik

You also have to consider the coursework since it’s crucial to have a good grasp of the technical aspects required, such as graphic design, social media marketing, and data analytics. 

Finally, long hours, tight deadlines, and the pressure to constantly be creative result in a high turnover rate for this college degree. 😫

4.  Journalism: 7.6 percent 📰

If research comes easy to you or you’ve always dreamed of appearing on television, a degree in journalism may sound like the perfect career move. 👩‍💼 But that’s where a lot of students get it wrong!

An Asian male journalist studying his notes before a broadcast
Thinking of majoring in journalism? Think again! Photo: KamranAydinov/Freepik

Journalism is far more than pitching news stories or reporting a script in front of a camera. As media constantly evolves, students need to be quick on their feet, work on tight deadlines, and build a strong network at the same time. 😅 

Journalism is also known for being a competitive field, especially with a growing number of talented individuals entering the industry every year and the constant downsizing and layoffs by media giants. 🏢 

5. Art: 7.3 percent 🎨

Here’s the catch: turning your art hobby into a career is entirely different. Art students are expected to put in consistent mental and physical hard work that can sap their enthusiasm for the craft. 😟

african-american-art-teacher-showing-a painting-to-a-group-of-students-at-an-art-studio
Despite its importance in fostering creativity and self-expression, the high dropout rate in art programs highlights a need for better resources and support for aspiring artists. Photo: Depositphotos

Sierra Deghan, who used to study ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute, described how the busyness of art school can be exhausting. 

“Foundation Year is perfect for someone who ONLY wants to make art; it’s not wrong to say you are living in the studio. That can be enjoyable, up to a point. But what about life, and experiences, and a well-rounded college education? And just sleep? I want to see films, visit museums, spend time with my friends, and the opportunity isn’t there . . . at least not if you want to be successful,” she said

The price tag on some art schools can be quite expensive and could act as a deterrent to students. In addition, there are legitimate concerns about the future of employment in the arts despite students putting in sleepless nights — leading to dropout rates in the program. 📉

6. Architecture: 7.2 percent 🏢

Completing an architecture degree eats away more time than other four-year programs, which is why some opt to back out. 😟

To give you an idea of what students go through, you need to complete a five-year bachelor’s degree and three years of internships (which can begin during school). 

A well-groomed male architect focusing on his structural drawings
Some students may find that an architecture major is not to their liking due to the demanding coursework, creative restrictions, or the time commitment required to complete the program. Photo: Depositphotos

After all of that, you also need to pass the Architect Registration Exam to get a license. Remember, an expensive architecture degree means nothing unless you become a licensed architect. 📐

One other reason that can scare students away is having to know heavy-duty stuff like calculus, physics, and statistics. Architecture relies on stability, and if you’re not great with numbers, it might not be your jam. 🔢

7. Engineering: 7 percent 🏗️

Wait, didn’t an engineering degree have a promising return on investment (big perks and a high pay packet)? So, why are students ghosting this program for something different? 🤔

The high dropout rate in the field can often be attributed to a lack of readiness for the high-stress program. 

In fact, engineering majors spend an average of 20 hours per week in laboratories, completing projects and engaging in long study sessions — almost twice as much compared to communications, marketing, or criminal justice students. 🥵

male-mechanical-engineer-solders-parts-of-machine
Engineering programs must also consider providing various types of student support to reduce the high dropout rate. Photo: ThisisEngineering RAEng/Unsplash

Late nights, piles of assignments, and a high level of required technical expertise force them to drop out in favor of a more relaxed field.

Additionally, engineering is seen as a profession with a high likelihood of financial success. 🤑 Even if engineering isn’t their true passion, some pursue it but end up changing their mind later on. 

 8. Biology: 6.8 percent🔬

Diving into the vast and complex world of nature can be a thrilling experience, but it’s not for everyone. 

Laborious hours of research, laboratory work, and even animal dissections are some reasons students choose to drop out of their biology major. 🔬

Money is also a factor because, unfortunately, biology is one of the most expensive majors in terms of tuition fees, textbooks, and lab equipment. 🥽

teacher-showing-model-of-brain-to-students-in-biology-class
Labs, assignments, and exams can be challenging, so some students may find the workload in biology too much to handle. Photo: Depositphotos

Students also always prefer to switch to a major they care about rather than stick to something they’re not enjoying. Maybe they thought marine biology was the coolest thing ever when they first started, but then they realized genetics is where their true passion lies. 

The intense competition for job opportunities in areas such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical research lead to advanced degrees, which strains your bank account and adds four more years of studying. 😵‍💫

9. Education: 6.6 percent 👨‍🏫

A mismatch between expectations and reality is one of the key reasons why a lot of students who major in education leave their programs. 

While many students enter education programs with a passion for teaching and a desire to change lives, they can quickly become disillusioned with large class sizes, students with behavior and learning difficulties, limited resources and support, and heavy workloads. 😫

blonde-female-math-schoolteacher-teaching-a-group-of-children-in-classroom
Education majors can be demanding, especially since it’s a gig with limited financial rewards. Photo: Depositphotos

These discrepancies between expectations and reality can lead to frustration, burnout, and in several cases, a decision to leave the field altogether before they’ve even graduated. 😔

It doesn’t help that teaching is one of the lowest-paying professions in the US, with many teachers earning less than a family living wage. 💸

10. Medicine: 1.4 percent 🩺

Aspiring doctors can forget about getting a full night’s sleep (let alone partying) for at least eight years, so it’s no surprise that the rigorous academic path sees so many students drop out. 📚

READ MORE: 12 Best Study Tools Medical Students Need to Stitch up That A!

Let us remind you that conquering four years of pre-med, four years of medical school, and a residency or fellowship isn’t a walk in the park. 

Add to that the fact that medical school is an expensive journey that leaves students under significant student debt after graduation that can reach over $300,000! 😮

stressed-young-general-practitioner-looking-at-patient-records-trying-to-concentrate
Many students drop out of medical school to pursue new opportunities. Photo: dragonimages/Freepik

Would-be doctors also work in highly competitive environments for notoriously long hours. For example, first-year residents are not entitled to overtime and might work round the clock without additional pay. 😢

If you can burn the midnight oil and battle long hours with caffeine, there is a payoff: the average salary of doctors in the US is $313,000 per year (and has been increasing ever since the pandemic). 


Remember, dropping out of college is not the end of the world, and there are many alternative paths to success. 💪🏼

Whether it’s taking a break to reassess your goals or exploring a different career path, the most important thing is to never give up on your dreams. ✨

So, keep your head up, stay motivated, and make the best of every opportunity that comes your way. Good luck! 👍

College Degrees With the Highest Dropout Rates: Frequently Asked Questions

Which college has the highest dropout rate?

At 22.7 percent, Sewanee-University of the South, Tennessee has the highest dropout rate in the country.

What is Harvard’s dropout rate?

Is dropping out of college a smart move?

How many people flunk out of college?

What is the main cause of dropping out of college?

Feature Image:Depositphotos

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