Research found that a third of college students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program last fall considered stopping their studies for a semester or more in the previous six months.
The 2021 Lumina-Gallup State of Higher Education Study conducted a web survey of 5.215 currently enrolled students in October and November of 2021. The report also showed that 41 percent of students pursuing associate degrees thought of the same option.
Stress was cited as the most common reason for wanting to withdraw. Around 76 percent of students in four-year programs and 63 percent of students in two-year degrees identified emotional difficulties as their main reason to consider dropping out.
The pandemic was the second most-mentioned factor at 34 percent, followed closely by the cost of attendance at 31 percent.
Gallup reported that declining enrollments could negatively impact higher education, especially small colleges and universities that depend on student tuition for their operating budgets.
Moreover, those who withdraw from college could be in a worse position than students who push through and graduate since they incur student loan debt without earning a degree.
Experts recommend that schools invest in mental health and academic support services to address students’ feelings of isolation and distress and boost retention.