Despite challenges, students who quit want to come back / Public News Service

In the wake of the pandemic disruptions, research shows the majority of students in North Dakota and beyond who have left school in the past two years want to return despite continued obstacles.

The report of Gallup and Lumina Foundation surveyed over 11,000 current students, others who recently “quit” and prospective students. He revealed that difficult classes were a big factor for those leaving school in 2021.

For traditional-aged students, said Stephanie Marken, Gallup’s executive director for education research, the stress of being isolated during their later high school years made them less prepared for a college setting.

“So we’re seeing high levels of course difficulty for students who report having considered quitting for this reason,” she said. “A lot of students who traditionally wouldn’t struggle to persevere, even in a first-year program, are really struggling to do so. So we’re also seeing a huge need for academic support.”

Just before the pandemic, the North Dakota University System released the findings of a student well-being survey. Nearly 40% reported feeling down or depressed on several days over a two-week period. Another 24% said these experiences made it difficult to complete their academic work.

The report also found that for those who stayed in school, their belief in the benefits of receiving a degree is a big part of why they stayed. Courtney Brown, Lumina Foundation’s vice president for impact and planning, said current and prospective students are seeing how this achievement can help them increase their knowledge and pay off.

“High percentages said they knew they needed a degree or certificate to learn skills, to get a job,” she said, “so the survey actually shows that there is great value in higher education. And that’s even for people who have never been in higher education.”

The report found that multiracial bachelor’s and associate’s degree students were the groups most likely to say it was hard to stay in school over the past year. Many have cited the high cost of college and the need for financial assistance to complete their education.

Support for this report was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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