Why You Need a College Plan: Only 43% of Students Graduate Where They Start

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, only 43% of students who began college in 2007 finished their degrees where they started. Only 56% of these students finished their degrees at any college in six years! If you find these graduation rates to be surprising and shocking, you should! Most families budget college expenses based on four years, even though most students take longer to graduate. Scholarships and financial aid also may not cover those extra years in school.

Based on our estimates, every extra year spent in college can lead to a loss of $45,000 in added tuition and lost time in the work force.

Is College Still Worth It?

Many studies cite the benefits of a college education, and those benefits cannot be denied. Despite the rising costs of tuition, college graduates have been shown to out-earn high school grads. They also are less likely to go without work during a recession or a downturn in the economy. Even more importantly than money perhaps, is the chance college affords students to explore new ideas, meet people different than them, and try new things.

However, many of the great benefits of college are reduced if students go in without a plan (or don’t want to be there in the first place). They should be ready for the workload, they should be intending to complete their classes in the recommended time, and they should take advantage of the many opportunities college brings them to expand their horizons.

Every student who switches majors, transfers to another school and loses credits, or drops out altogether, is placing a huge burden on themselves.  Not to say you should never be able to change your mind, but you will drastically improve your chances of success in college and in a future career if you have a good idea of what you want in the first place. There is no harm in forming a plan, even if it ends up changing later!