Students in the U.S. are dropping out of college at an alarming rate. According to research by The New York Times, one in three college students never earn a degree. What’s more, this staggering number of dropouts has more to do with the schools than the students—The New York Times found that colleges with similar student bodies often had significantly different graduation rates. So what’s causing kids to quit school? And how does NCSA make a difference? These five factors are a good place to start:
Defined academic path
According to the article, students tend to perform better when they’re following an academic roadmap instead of aimlessly signing up for classes. To keep their students on track, some of the successful schools mentioned in the article don’t allow any “undeclared majors.” Instead, they assign every student a “pre-major” based on the interests they listed on their application. To ensure students graduate on time, some successful colleges also require a certain amount of class credits each semester.
NCSA’s take: We’re always preaching the importance of academics. In fact, a recent NCSA survey found that student-athletes and parents feel that academics is the most important factor to consider when choosing a college. Choosing the right school to play your sport doesn’t define the next four years, it help define the next forty years. The things you learn and the people you meet will have an impact on the rest of your life. At NCSA, our recruiting experts provide helpful support as you decide on a major and the right school for you.
As you connect with coaches and consider different schools, check out the current roster to see which majors are most popular with athletes. Some majors that require extra hours might not be possible with your athletic schedule.
Living on campus is another key factor. At colleges where more students live on campus, graduation rates tend to be higher. It’s easy to understand why. When you live off campus, college is pretty similar to high school. You park your car, sit in class and go home. When you live on campus, you’re immersed in a new community and lifestyle. If you run into academic or financial problems, it’s much easier to get assistance from peers, teachers or advisers.
NCSA’s take: We’re committed to helping you find the right fit. As you consider schools, we encourage you to go on several official and unofficial visits to compare and contrast different campuses. Your dorm or apartment and the location of academic buildings, athletic facilities and dining commons are all important things to consider. Depending on your sport, you may be living with other team members. This provides a built-in support system that other students don’t necessarily have. Here are some more tips about evaluating colleges.
According to the article, colleges with higher rates of student success seem to care more about their students and go the extra mile to improve the quality of campus life. These schools collect information about their student body and study that data to remove hurdles and deepen connections. Students want to feel like their school cares and is in tune with their day-to-day life.
NCSA’s take: The athletic recruiting process can help you weed out schools that aren’t invested in their students. Since the process is so much more involved for student-athletes, you’ll have more opportunities to ask questions about campus programs and organizations. If a college doesn’t seem like it offers much besides the sports team, you may want to keep looking.
Another thing many of the successful schools had in common—new student orientation classes and campus support centers to help kids learn how to be college students. The jump from high school to college can be an overwhelming change. In college, students are faced with quite a few new decisions—what to study, where to eat, when to sleep. For this reason, mandatory orientation classes and a well-run support center with tutoring and other assistance can help college students make a quick adjustment.
NCSA’s take: In some ways, your transition as an athlete may be even more challenging than for the average college student. In addition to developing healthy habits around study, nutrition and sleep, you have to adjust to competing at the college level. Instead of squaring off against teenagers, you’ll be facing 21 and 22-year-old athletes who are bigger, faster, stronger and more skilled. However, being an athlete can have its benefits. By your first day of school, you’ll already be acquainted with the campus and familiar with the coaching staff and your teammates. Having a few built-in friends from day one can be a great asset to boost your confidence and help you settle in to your new environment.
Ultimately, the increasing cost of college is one of the biggest factors leading to dropouts. Colleges that go above and beyond to help students get scholarships and cover living expenses tend to have higher graduation rates. Likewise, students are more likely to graduate when they can focus on their academics and not their student-loans.
NCSA’s take: Locking down an athletic scholarship is the number one goal for many student-athletes. But to get an offer, you need to get on a college coach’s radar and develop a strong connection. Learning everything you can about athletic scholarships can help you understand how much money is out there and how much you’re likely to receive. Keep in mind—athletic scholarships are usually only good for one year. Academic scholarships are often worth more and typically last for four years. Scholarships.com and FAFSA can help you secure the financial aid you need to pay for college. We work to ensure that all student-athletes working with NCSA know how to find every financial aid opportunity for them at any given college.