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Why Students Drop Out of College

New MSU Study Cites Key Risk Factors

February 17, 2011

Why Students Drop Out of College

by Alexis Mattera

It may seem counterintuitive to work hard throughout high school, score well on your standardized tests, get accepted to your first-choice college and wrangle enough financial aid to pay for your education only to drop out before graduation but it does happen. What causes this academic 180? That’s what researchers at Michigan State University revealed in a new study.

The team, led by MSU assistant professor of psychology Tim Pleskac, used a mathematical model to analyze surveys from 1,158 freshmen at 10 U.S. colleges and universities. The surveys listed 21 "critical events" and students were asked whether any of the events happened to them in the previous semester; later, the students surveyed were asked whether or not they planned to drop out. Among the top risk factors reported were depression, loss of financial aid, tuition increases, unexpected poor marks and roommate issues. Other "critical events" like family deaths, failure to get into a specific program of study, significant bodily injury and addiction, however, were less likely to impact a student’s decision to leave school. "Prior to this work, little was known about what factors in a student’s everyday life prompt them to think about withdrawing from college," Pleskac said. "We are now better suited to think about what students we should target in terms of counseling or other assistance to help them work through these issues."

Would any of the factors listed above effect your choice to drop out of college? If they did, do you think you would eventually return to obtain your degree?


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Deadline for Our Facebook Scholarship Approaching

by Suada Kolovic

With just over a week left to enter our “You Like Me…You Really Like Me” Facebook Scholarship, we wanted to remind our fans of a key piece of the judging criteria: The person who best describes how Scholarships.com is helping them prepare for and afford college will win the $1,000 prize. So, while we love hearing that you heart us, we’d much rather have you detail how, for example, our blog post on standardized testing helped prepare you for the dreaded SATs or how our College Prep section gave you a jumpstart on your college planning. Remember, the more you share, the better your chances are at winning.

If you’re new to Scholarships.com and unfamiliar with its contents, take a tour and check out everything we have to offer. Our site is teeming with info – from figuring out the puzzle that is the FAFSA and strategies for winning scholarships to living with a roommate and preparing for an internship – so if you like us (really like us), tell us why. Just be sure to do it soon: The deadline to “like” and leave your thoughtful comment is March 31st. For more details, check out our Facebook page. Good luck!


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What to Consider When Selecting a Roommate

by Anna Meskishvili

Personally, I think that choosing a roommate is one of the most challenging things about college. They are the ultimate lottery. But in order to pick the right roommate for you, you must first properly understand yourself.

I’m sure you have all completed (or will soon complete) some variation of the “roommate survey,” which might reveal to you a prototype of the perfect roommate but here’s a reality check: Roommates are not perfect. In order to be the best roommate you can be, evaluate yourself. Speaking from experience, I thought I wanted to be best friends with my roommate, wanted my room to be the social hot spot of the floor and didn’t care about order or rules. Turns out, when you’re busy as a bee like me and are exhausted when you come home, the last thing you want to see is a dog pile of frat boys on your bed trying to see how many grapes they can shove in their mouths. Don’t get me wrong, I work hard and play hard but I always idealized my room as a place I could go to do neither those two things.

The bottom line about choosing roommates, make sure you both are on the same page and don’t just assume you are – talk about it. This is someone you will be living four feet away from for a year and avoidance is not an option. Top issues to cover are:

  • What time do you usually go to bed? Do you need the TV on to fall asleep?
  • Do you plan on studying or partying in the room?
  • If I vacuum the room on Mondays, can you do it on Fridays?
  • Are you going to have a lot of overnight guests? Let’s make a code.
  • Do you expect me to be in the room all the time?

And before you ask your prospective roommate any of these questions, ask them to yourself. Good luck, roomie!

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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How to Move Out Without Getting Stressed Out

by Jacquelene Bennett

It’s that time of the year again – summertime...and moving time for many college students. Here are a few simple tips for moving out of your doom or apartment:

  • Donate your stuff rather than throw it away. It’s the end of the year and you are realizing how much stuff you have accumulated over the last nine months. Rather than throwing away those jeans that don’t fit or that lamp you never use, donate them. At the end of every school year, Goodwill sets up a donation center on my campus where they will take everything from used clothing to electronics. See if your school does the same!
  • Utilize your school’s on-campus storage spaces. If your residence hall offers temporary summer storage for students, take advantage of it! Space is usually limited but this is a great option for storing things that you won't need during the summer months (think: mini-fridge and cooking utensils). If your school doesn’t have storage on campus, get some friends to split the cost of renting a storage locker somewhere near campus. Bonus: Many facilities offer discounts to college students.
  • Make sure to clean. It might be a hassle to vacuum the floors and take out the trash but it will cost you less in the long run. Schools often charge fees for unclean rooms (at my school, it’s $25 for every bag they fill with trash from a room) so if you don’t want to be billed, make sure it’s clean!
  • Keep it organized. Don’t just throw items in random boxes and suitcases; take the time to label them and make sure everything is secure. This will help when physically moving all your stuff and when you unpack later on at home.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.


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MythBusters: The College Edition

by Darci Miller

Have you ever watched “MythBusters,” the show that scientifically tests myths and urban legends, like are elephants really afraid of mice or is it possible to walk on water? Now, I may not have a crash test dummy named Buster, but I do have two years of dorm life, on- and off-campus adventures and brutal assignments under my belt. Therefore, I bring to you "MythBusters: The College Edition."

Myth 1 – College is a constant party. Thirsty Thursday is a very real phenomenon. There are people that go out partying on Mondays. Some students come to class still drunk from the night before. But if you venture into the library on Friday evening, there are people there. College is hard work, it’s not all “Animal House.”

Myth 2 – Dorm life is disgusting. Yes, the toilets and sinks may clog occasionally and your roommate could be a vile person who steals your food and leaves garbage on your bed. But if everyone’s respectful, bathrooms are honestly fine and you may end up loving your freshman roommate and living together for multiple years...like me and mine!

Myth 3 – Professors don’t care. High school teachers beat this one into your brain, right? College professors may not remind you about daily readings but they will let you know when a test or big assignment is coming up and are happy to answer questions about them.

Myth 4 – You’ll gain weight. Eat normal-sized portions, throw in a vegetable here and there and hit the gym. This very simple recipe will ensure the Freshman 15 doesn’t even cross your mind...or waistline.

Myth 5 – You’re going to change your major numerous times. It’s fine if you do but if you know what you want to study and still love it after taking a few classes, you probably won’t. Don’t feel weird about not changing your major: Some people are just focused...you’re lucky if you’re one of them!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Handling Pests in Off-Campus Housing

by Kayla Herrera

When the campus dormitories have run their course and you are ready to have a room bigger than a closet, living in off-campus housing can be an exciting experience. Be forewarned, however, that you may have to deal with pests. No, I’m not talking about rude, unkempt roommates but insects, rodents and other undomesticated animals.

As a college student, you may have never dealt with a pest on your own before. I sure hadn't...until recently. During finals week, I heard scratching in my ceiling. I ignored it but after returning from a week-long trip, the source of the scratching revealed itself. I screamed, “it” crawled into the ceiling and I covered the holes with duct tape, still not knowing what the creature was. I called my landlord but he was out of town and said he'd take care of it on Monday. That weekend, a friend and I heard the scratching again, this time from the kitchen. “There it is!” screamed my friend as I tried to chase “it” out the door. “It” jumped behind the couch then flew back into the kitchen (I had no idea that “it” could fly!). My friend held a pot so we could capture “it” but when “it” ran toward her, she panicked and dropped the pot on top of the creature, paralyzing it. “It” – what we later found out was a flying squirrel – died soon after.

So off-campus dwellers, if you hear animal noises or have a large amount of insects inside your rental unit, call your landlord immediately. It’s their responsibility to get rid of the problem for you and if he or she doesn't or refuses to help, he or she is breaking the law.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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The Benefits of Community Colleges

by Lisa Lowdermilk

For many students fresh out of high school, the idea of going to a community college is not appealing. After all, one of the most exciting aspects of attending college is living on campus away from home, right? Well, living on campus may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Although few people would argue that universities' clubs, fraternities and parties are superior to anything offered at a community college, the stress of being away from home for the first time, learning to live with one or more roommates and being forced to make new friends can be quite an adjustment. Community colleges help students ease into the transition between high school and college more gradually.

Then there’s the cost: Tuition at a community college per year costs $2,713 per year, whereas four-year universities cost $7,605 per year on average. This second figure assumes you're living in-state but if you're living out-of-state, expect to be set back about $11,990 your first year. If cost is the major deciding factor, your decision is easy: Go to a community college for your first two years, then transfer. With all the extra money you're saving, you can throw your own parties, buy that new car you've been wanting or just save up for when you do go to a university.

Even if you're not going to your dream school for your first two years, you'll still have the opportunity to experience campus life after you get your associate degree at a community college. And who knows? Maybe you'll even find out community colleges aren't as bad as they're made out to be!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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The Cure for Homesickness

by Radha Jhatakia

Regardless of whether you enjoyed living at home or how excited you are to move out, you will be homesick in some capacity your first time living away at school. I had never been more excited in my life than when I was going to finally be able to leave home – I had strict parents and although I was very independent, I did not have the freedom I wanted – but once I did and found myself going back to a room that wasn’t really mine in a place I didn’t really know, it was difficult. Sure I received the freedom I wanted but also the consequences that came with it. Basically, I was alone and missed home.

The good news is that there’s a cure for homesickness...multiple ones, actually! Start by making your environment comfortable by improving your surroundings. Buy or make decorations like picture frames, posters or sports memorabilia and the concrete walls of your dormitory will be much more welcoming. Next, find all the good hangout spots and the best places to eat for when you miss home-cooked food. The best way to do this is by talking with other students and consulting sites like Yelp to find places with good reviews and prices that fit within your budget.

Continue fighting off homesickness by keeping in touch with family and friends. Do this by emailing loved ones regularly and downloading Skype to video chat and call (for free!). Lastly, every school has something to offer its students but it’s impossible to find out what that is if you never leave your dorm room! Make friends, go to campus events, join clubs or teams based on your interests or rush a fraternity or sorority. Chances are, the people who said their years in college were the best in their lives were probably homesick at one point but they recovered...and you can too!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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First Contact of the Roommate Kind

by Jacquelene Bennett

Starting college can be exciting and intimidating all at the same time for myriad reasons but one thing that doesn’t have to be stressful is getting to know your future roommate. Schools generally reveal room assignments a couple of weeks before the start of the term, giving you plenty of time to get acquainted and prevent any possible problems.

As a freshman, I lived in a room with three other girls. Yes, you read that right: There were four of us in one room. Luckily, we all got along really well and respected each other’s lifestyles and schedules but there was still an adjustment period – this will always happen when living with someone new.

One way to help ease the shock is to make contact before school starts. My roommates and I called each before freshman orientation and though it was a bit awkward, talking to a stranger it was helpful. We discussed each other’s cleaning habits, sleep schedules, class schedules and music preferences so when we finally moved in, we already knew what to expect.

Not only does calling, emailing or Facebooking your new roommate ease the awkwardness of living with an unfamiliar person and setting standards for your room but it gives you a chance to cut costs as well. You can plan ahead of time which person is going to bring the mini-fridge and who is going to bring the television so you don’t need to buy both. The same should go for all shared items: My freshman roommates and I would take turns buying water bottles for everyone.

Living with someone you never met before is going to be awkward and uncomfortable in the beginning but you can help the situation by simply picking up the phone and calling them. Who knows, they could end up being your best friend!

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.


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Staying Safe Online

June 7, 2011

Staying Safe Online

by Radha Jhatakia

We’ve all heard that we should be careful of the information we put on the Internet but how many of us actually listen to this advice? There are news stories and movies made about what can happen when we put our personal information online, yet many people believe that nothing bad will happen. The truth is that it can be quite dangerous to share private information in any setting; the Internet just makes it easier.

Social networking sites have changed the modern generation. We put up tweets and Facebook statuses about every minute thing we do. Every picture taken at a party goes up on the web (whether the subjects are mentally stable or not) and every gripe about a job or professor is tweeted or turned into a status message. These things can affect you in many ways...if not now, then in the future: They can prevent you from getting a job or getting into school and people who post their addresses, phone numbers and emails are not only at risk of identity theft but could be stalked...or worse.

If you have not adjusted the privacy settings on your personal profiles, change them immediately. When someone friends you and you’re not sure you know them, decline the request or message them to get more information. Don’t volunteer private information about where you live or work to anyone, including using “check in” applications like those on Facebook and foursquare. Sure, it’s fun to let your friends know you’re using your hard-earned work-study dollars to treat yourself to a meal outside the dining hall but if your privacy settings are too low, everyone with access to your pages will know where you are at any given time. You could return to your dorm to find your laptop missing.

In the most basic of terms, when it comes to sharing information online, be cautious and trust your gut.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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