Analysis: Why don't Ga. college students graduate?

Gov. Deal has joined past leaders in pushing for more grads to fill future jobs

Daniel Shirey/ Morris News Service
Grady College of Mass Communications graduates turn their tassels at the UGA Summer Commencement in Athens, Ga., on Saturday
Sunday, Aug 7, 2011 4:17 PM
Last updated 6:25 PM
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ATLANTA -- When Gov. Nathan Deal announced that boosting college-graduation rates was a goal of his administration, he joined a long line of public officials grasping for a solution to a nagging problem.
Fewer than half of the freshmen beginning class this month at four-year public colleges across the state will graduate in the next six years, based on long-standing trends. Those entering two-year colleges will fare worse. Just one-fourth of them will collect a sheep’s skin.
National figures are similar to Georgia’s.
“Completion numbers are not that good in Georgia. They’re not that good across the country,” said Stan Jones, president of the Complete College America foundation.
Most of those who wash out of college weren’t prepared for it. The more remedial courses a student is required to take, the greater the likelihood of flunking out.
Remedial courses essentially mean students repeat high school despite having graduated.
These college freshmen are the ones who have already surpassed their classmates as high-school where one-third never earned a baccalaureate diploma.
Georgia passed a law granting a sort of money-back guarantee on high school diplomas. It was a gimmicky way of promising employers that any graduate they hired would be adequately educated. The Board of Regents could save a bundle by claiming that guarantee.
The Board of Education toughened high school curriculum and eliminated the general diploma that many kids pursued instead of the more challenging college-prep avenue. But still colleges are having to re-teach high school courses to graduates.
To try to a different way, Deal got a $1 million grant to develop online remedial course so students can study at their own pace. That borrows from the successful dropout-prevention program developed by Communities In Schools for middle-schoolers.
Wills Potts also took a stab at the issue of college completion rates when he became chairman of the regents. He ordered every college president to draft a plan for boosting rates at their school, a step Deal ordered again Thursday.
Potts said after Deal’s announcement that every president offered the same prescription: engagement. Of course, the simplest solution would be to raise admission standards since more-selective schools like the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech have few dropouts. But the state needs college graduates to fill 60 percent of the new jobs in 2018, and most of its engineering jobs are already filled by folks transferred from other states, so turning away tens of thousands of students isn’t the answer.
Besides, the Technical College System of Georgia can’t merely take those turned away from traditional colleges because the tech schools have their on challenges with completion rates.
So engagement is the favored prescription. That means getting students engaged with campus life so they can’t easily slip through cracks.
Most colleges now throw parties, cookouts and concerts to draw freshmen into campus and help them make friends. Potts said some professors are even calling the roll each day and contacting absent students -- something that used to seem unnecessary for adults.
Potts wanted to base funding on completion-rate improvement. “What is rewarded is what gets done,” he said. But statewide budget cutting scuttled his plans.
Although budgets are still lean, Deal has revived the idea.
As Potts suggests, money talks, and it may be the loudest voice in improving graduation rates.
If nothing else, Deal at least is showing he cares as much as other policymakers before him.

Walter Jones is the Atlanta bureau chief for Morris News and has been covering Georgia government since 1998. He can be reached at walter.jones@morris.com, 404-589-8424 .

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crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 08/07/11 - 03:52 pm
1
0
How about having students

How about having students sign a contract that requires that any state funds for higher education, including HOPE funds, be paid back to the State of Georgia if a degree is not completed within a reasonable period of time?

crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 08/07/11 - 03:52 pm
0
0
How about having students

How about having students sign a contract that requires that any state funds for higher education, including HOPE funds, be paid back to the State of Georgia if a degree is not completed within a reasonable period of time?

Just My Opinion
6304
Points
Just My Opinion 08/07/11 - 04:06 pm
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0
In my personal opinion, I

In my personal opinion, I think the reason for the high number of students dropping out is not just for academic reasons, but for monetary reasons. College just costs too much! Simple. If a student is struggling and wants to stay in college to better themselves, they may have to take remedial classes, just like the article says. Those classes cost money, and that money is above what the student originally thought they'd be spending. Taking these classes may add one or two more years to the forecasted graduation date. Of course these classes are necessary, but that's not the point. The cost of the extra courses...heck, ALL the courses...books, student fees, etc drives the costs up and the inspiration and the ability to go to school DOWN! Every year the costs go up another few percentage points. It's getting to the point where people have to reconsider their college options. Unless they get scholarships, students and parents should seriously think about having their kids go to local colleges (ASU is a great school, btw!) instead of the pie-in-the-sky ultra-expensive route of going away to college. Some students and parents felt almost embarassed if they weren't able to go away to school like some of their peers. But, all the while, the parents of these peers were having to struggle financially with 2nd mortgages and huge loans! Do what it takes to lower the costs of going to college and you'll see more students being able to finish. The way it is now, the kid has to change their plans and hope to finish college at a later date...but for now, they have to go back to work!

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 08/07/11 - 04:43 pm
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Walter Jones wrote: To try to

Walter Jones wrote:

To try to a different way, Deal got a $1 million grant to develop online remedial course so students can study at their own pace.

Was that federal stimulus money? That will really help our credit rating.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 08/07/11 - 04:48 pm
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Walter Jones wrote: The Board

Walter Jones wrote:

The Board of Education toughened high school curriculum and eliminated the general diploma that many kids pursued instead of the more challenging college-prep avenue. But still colleges are having to re-teach high school courses to graduates.

The problem is high school grade inflation. The high schools have to make every student a B student so they can be accepted in college and get the Hope Scholarship.

The solution is for the colleges to toughen admission standards and downsize.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 08/07/11 - 04:58 pm
0
0
!0-4 Little Lamb and why the

!0-4 Little Lamb and why the colleges are flush with new buildings, high salaries, and a BROKE HOPE.

That should be as plain as the noses on their faces.

Craig Spinks
818
Points
Craig Spinks 08/07/11 - 06:45 pm
0
0
Many of our state's public

Many of our state's public high schools do not prepare our kids, even those in college-prep classes, to perform college-level work.

Dr. John Barge, our new state SOS, and his team, I'm pleased to say, are doing something about that.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 08/07/11 - 07:50 pm
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Craig, I like you a LOT. We

Craig, I like you a LOT. We should have elected Kira Willis instead of Barge. She was going to make HOPE a payback. Over half of those on HOPE lose it the first semester. That means HALF would have to pay then prove they are worthy and wont make the cut.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 08/07/11 - 10:46 pm
0
0
If you have to take remedial

If you have to take remedial courses in college you shouldn't be there in the first place. Our public k-12 education is a disgrace.

allhans
24988
Points
allhans 08/08/11 - 06:01 am
0
0
Send the kids back to high

Send the kids back to high school if they aren't ready for college. Why shoud a college take on the education that public schools are paid plenty of tax money to render.

Jessica
0
Points
Jessica 08/08/11 - 10:08 am
0
0
I am with you allhans. Would

I am with you allhans. Would it be that much more difficult to have evening/online classes taught at the high school to catch up the people who need remedial education? Also, pride of that scholar should not be an issue. For those who may feel they are above going to a high school for remedial classes, remember two things. One, it costs less! Two, keep the goal in vision; more than likely you are not alone.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/08/11 - 10:12 am
0
0
They aren't graduating for

They aren't graduating for several reasons.

1. The Pell Grants are allowing people (not all) to go to college who really aren't college material

2. The Hope Scholarship is allowing people (not all) to go to college who really aren't college material

3. There are lots of tiny colleges & universities whose sole existence is to recruit people with low incomes so they can get federal aid for tuition. Many of those folks don't have the grades, they are just a warm, money making body for these colleges. There are some right here in Augusta. Professors are basically forced to give the student a good grade to keep them enrolled. Many of those folks don't have the fortitude to continue.

4. Our government high schools stink and are not preparing students for the reality of difficult college curriculum. Lots of kids go off to school, lose their Hope Scholarship after the first year & drop out

This entire problems all stems back to & is because of GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION and/or poorly run govt departments (i.e. the public schools!).

Privatize everything, get rid of all the federal aid & govt give-aways and watch college graduation rates soar.

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