12 Reasons Why Students Drop out Of College | University

12 reasons why students drop out of college

Here are some of the various reasons why students drop out of college | university across the world and their solutions.

Students dropping out of school is no longer news, and it is now a great concern, and the question of why they drop out of school has remained on the lips of many people.

There are a lot of reasons students drop out of school, and in this work, we will do a little justice to the possible causes and solutions, not just limited to the 12 reasons students drop out from colleges and universities around the world.

One common reason why students drop out of college | university is financial challenges. Later in this post, we will be highlighting a reliable digital skill that guarantees financial security.

Many common causes, regardless of the type of school, lead to reasons why students drop out of higher education studies. There may be individual problems or a mixture of issues.

If they are not addressed adequately by campus management, it will lead to a significant decrease in student retention.

Read Also: Proven Secrets to Attaining Higher Grades in School

What are the causes of students dropping out of university?

There are other reasons while financial issues are probably the most common reason for dropping out of college, every student has their reasons. Some unfortunately have family issues, a lack of support, or unexpected medical problems that are beyond their control.

Among the most common reasons for dropping out are things directly related to the transition that occurs between high school and college, like discovering college is too expensive, homesickness, being unsure of major or plan of study, and being unprepared for the workload.

What percentage of students drop out of college?

Research has it that more than 63% of students enrolled in college in a year drop out, leaving about 37% of students who may likely finish up their studies either as full-time or part-time students enrolled in college.

What are the causes and effects of students dropping out of school?

Financial problems, parents’ unwillingness, distance and lack of basic facilities, bad quality of the education, inadequate school environment and building, overloaded classrooms, improper languages of teaching, carelessness of teachers, and security problem in girls school are found as major causes of student dropouts 

How can students prevent dropping out?

How to Keep Students from Dropping Out

  1. Communicate. …
  2. Talk to them about career realities. …
  3. Don’t pressure them to do too much. …
  4. Stay in touch with the school. …
  5. Be supportive and involved. …
  6. Encourage a break, rather than quitting. …
  7. Consider a different school. …
  8. Consider a gap year.

No one said that going to college would be easy. Many contributing factors can lead to the reasons why students drop out of college | university.

Some are inescapable; some are well, just plain negligence. Either way, dropping out of college can count as a substantial loss in the life of a student.

Reasons Why Students Drop Out of College | University

  1. Financial Problems
  2. Poor secondary school preparation
  3. The student is not sure or convinced of the major.
  4. No Individual Attention or Guidance
  5. Conflict with work and family commitments
  6. Increase in failed courses
  7. Lack of quality time with teachers and counselors
  8. De-motivating
  9. School environment
  10. Broken Relationships
  11. Life Situations and Other Outside Demands
  12. Absenceof value
  13. Lack of student support

1. Financial Problems

According to Times Higher Education, 1 out of 4 college students in Germany broke off their studies early due to either financial problems, poor student-professor relationships, or lack of motivation.

Marguerite McNeal, the writer, and editor explain how this issue has turned more complicated in the United States due to student loans. Over 40% of student borrowers are not making payments on their loans, which adds to a vicious student debt cycle that pushes them out of school.

She quotes former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan saying “The most expensive degree is the one you do not complete.”

According to Collegeview.com, some students “underestimate college costs and realize too late that they lack the funds to cover it all. Others decide they would rather be making money working full time than pursuing a costly degree.”


The solution to these financial problems will be to get more money, but it’s easier said than done. Students can apply for grants and scholarships but in some cases that won’t help. The selection process for scholarships and grants is daunting, to say the least. So, to many students, it’s either to take student loans and remain in debt for the better part of their youth or just drop out.

When faced with these two options, many students pick the latter because, in a way, their future won’t be spent in a rat race of paying back student debts. However, there’s a simple solution to this, you can make money while you’re in school. There are ways you can make money online to put yourself through school.

The search queries of people looking for ways to pay off their student loans drew us to the reality that students need extra sources of income that would provide them with financial balance while giving them enough free time to focus on their studies.

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2. Poor secondary school preparation

Poor secondary school preparation is also one of the reasons why students drop out of college | university. Even though colleges and universities are addressing students’ lack of readiness in areas such as language and mathematics, there is a point where students cannot cope or handle the workload anymore and leave school.

Marguerite McNeal is very harsh at saying that, in the United States: “Higher- institutions point fingers at high schools for sending them underprepared students who drop out because they cannot keep up with coursework, but colleges and universities are not innocent victims.

They can be doing more to help students succeed even before matriculation.”

It is not just the level of the degrees, but the mental attitude. In Spain, for instance, Times Higher Education points out that some people that enter university from vocational training “can have problems getting to groups with the theoretical side of their degree.

Others are disoriented by the change from the structured school environment to the more autonomous university world.”


Stress is highly normal for college freshmen but can be harmful if you don’t have healthy ways to manage it.

Let’s say your freshman courses are kicking your butt. From career center tutors to guidance counselors, colleges have a ton of student support resources to help you succeed.

University professors have something called “office hours” where you can drop in and speak with them. So feel free to bug your prof after class for clarification on something that went over your head. You can even go the extra mile and start a study group! Never feel like you have to academically struggle—you’ve got options.

Super useful college study habit tips:

Organization trumps everything. Keep your due dates, assignments, and extracurricular activities organized with a good planner or app! Time tracking tools are great for monitoring productivity.

Don’t cram! Map out your study schedule so that you always have enough time to prepare.

Get good with taking notes. Practice taking good class notes or even carry a tape recorder if you have to. If you miss something, ask your lecturer or classmate for theirs to catch up.

You can also join a tutorial group where you will surely meet like minds that discuss some certain courses that seem to be a problem to you. That way you will find those courses easy to assimilate.

3. The Student is Not Sure or Convinced with the Major

Any college teacher sees two trends here: either the major failed to meet the student’s expectations, or the major wasn’t the student’s first choice, which might also be one of the reasons why students drop out of college or university.

When asked about their major, a common phrase that freshmen and sophomore students in the United States tell teachers when they introduce themselves at the beginning of the year is:

“I am undecided.”

In Latin America, this is completely different. In countries such as Chile, 17 and 18-year-olds are virtually forced to pick a 4 to 7-year major, with almost no room to find themselves first.

Students in programs and universities with low entry requirements thresholds (such as social sciences) tend to have a higher dropout rate than majors that have higher requirements to enroll in the first place, such as medical degrees (which in Latin America begin at an undergraduate level).

This is gradually changing, as universities are slowly adopting college-mode baccalaureates and common core education to provide orientation.


Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to start college right after graduation. If you’re not feeling ready, defer your admission for a semester or more and do a gap year.

You’ll get the time to nail what it is you’re truly passionate about. Plus, gap year travel is the perfect backdrop for exploring your personal interests. Why else are gap years all the rave?

Gap year alums have higher and quicker graduation rates (four years or less, compared nationally to only 59% graduating within six years!).

Stats say gap year fellows perform better in school. Eighty-three percent of students who took a gap year have a 3.0 or higher.

Gap years build up soft skills. These are great for collaborating and communicating with others—the perfect ingredients for a groovy college experience!

So friend, has high school graduation got you feeling anxious about your future? It’s totally healthy to take some time out to decide what you want to do.

Reach out to these people for guidance as you design your academic goals. With the right preparation, you can succeed in college.

Now you’re clear on some of the forces behind high college dropout rates. However, armed with the tips above, you don’t have to get overwhelmed by the realities of college life! Give yourself time to reflect and take our proactive steps now to keep you coasting on the road to academic success.

4. No Individual Attention or Guidance

Another important reason why students drop out of college or university is that such has no individual attention or guidance.

Growing up, we live for guidance; we thrive on structure and someone’s instruction or care. At college, especially in the first year, guidance and individual attention from a counselor or mentor may not exist in the student’s life.

Not knowing where to go, how to deal with problems can lead to most of the factors I mentioned above, and ultimately down the road to a failed college experience.


With the exception of situations that drop from the sky, completely out of the student’s hands, everything that I mentioned above is preventable.

I suggest having a mature, realistic expectation of what your first year of college will bring and persevering through it. Be responsible. Be an adult. Invest well in your future.

Regardless of the type of school, many common triggers may lead to students dropping studies in higher education. These may be individual issues or a mix of problems.

If they are not addressed adequately by campus management, it will lead to a significant decrease in student retention.

5. Conflict with work and family commitments

This is another misunderstanding that leads to the reason why students drop out of college | university.

This happens both in undergraduate degrees and postgraduate education. According to a study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “the main reason why students dropped out of college in 2009 was this conflict of interest between school, the job, and the family.

Many students who drop out of college have to work while enrolled in college. They often find it very difficult to support themselves and their families and go to college at the same time.

Many have dependent children and enroll part-time. Many lack adequate support from parents and student aid.”

While this is also a financial issue, this work-study balance has many other underlying problems. 3 out of 4 respondents said that work contributed to the decision to drop out, and 1 out of 3 said that balancing work and school was “too stressful.

6. Increase in failed courses

This is not about failing one class or two. Students feel overwhelmed when repeating foundation courses the following semester or year becomes a trend rather than an episode. To the overwhelming amount of piled up work, students feel stressed and demotivated for a series of additional reasons:

Some students feel that they are not up to the job ahead.

Others struggle with paying up for an extra year of school.

Many have strong feelings about their peers advancing ahead of them.

They have a sense of hopelessness.

Students in this category may feel that while they like the major, the major is not suited for them.

7. Lack of quality time with teachers and counselors

Certainly, this is another reason why students drop out of college | university. A high student: teacher ratio not only reduces the quality of education but also provides a less nurturing, personalized learning experience. It demotivates students.

Many education experts agree that the student experience improves if teachers and authorities take a personalized approach.

Leading education scholar Sir Ken Robinson is very critical of this lack of awareness. He says that schools that do well “employ teachers that treat students as individuals that need nurturing, not widgets that get blindly assembled.

 8. De-motivating School Environment

For some, the reasons why students drop out of college | university are very plainly: “boredom.” However, there is an underlying issue behind that lack of student engagement.

Lin Y. Muilenburg and Zane L. Berge studied student barriers to online learning. They explain at the Distance Education that they found internal and external motivation barriers.

Internally, they found the feeling that their learning environment was not “innately motivation.”

Externally, they found that students felt a lack of peer collaboration online, the absence of social cues, or fear of isolation.

A study made by GradNation.org surveyed some of the top reasons for dropping school. Some of them show a significant trend from the classroom environment:

“No one cared if I attended.”

“School environment.”

“Teacher and school problems.”

9. Broken Relationships

Broken relationships are also another valid reasons why students drop out of colleges | universities.

Finding love at college is very common, but when love turns into loathing and heartbreak, it can easily take the student away from academics. The awkward passer-by on campus, the shared classes, the same grouping of friends, the hurtful memories, can be enough to get at least one of the two packings.

10. Life Situations and Other Outside Demands

Unfortunately, as life may dictate, there are unexpected life situations that can lead to students dropping out of college or university, which can be of a serious nature. The student is forced to come home.

Illness or illness of a family member, financial limitations can all contribute to why a student may be forced to relinquish his or her college education for the time being.

The balance of social life and academics is somewhat difficult for a college student. The problem is too much of one destroys the other. The natural inclination, of course, is friends and pleasure.

Drinking, staying up late, blowing off classes to the point where the student is too far behind to make up for the slack can lead to expulsion, rescinding of the parent money flow, and/or a decision from the student themselves to discontinue college.

11. Absene of value

Feeling: “College isn’t for everyone, plus I can get a job without a degree.”

We’ve all heard the success stories of folks like Bill Gates, Ellen DeGeneres, and Mark Zuckerberg—they’re college dropouts who made it big. Their life stories can tempt you into thinking, “who needs college”?

While these success stories are inspiring, the truth is they’re not the norm! Sure, it’s trendy to talk about the “decreasing value” of degrees. However, take a look at the following stats—they paint a much different picture:

94% of America’s wealthiest and influential leaders are college graduates.

High school grads have triple the rates of unemployment than college grads.

Degree holders earn about $1 million dollars more over their lifetime than those who didn’t attend college.

On average, college grads earn $17,500 more each year than high school grads.


If you’re leaning towards quitting school, give yourself time to reflect a bit deeper on your feelings.

There are short-term experiences that can help you find out your second thoughts. Do an internship or sign up for a few junior college courses.

Take online courses to learn a skill, enroll in a trade school, or professional skills training and career networking program such as General Assembly.

With these alternative solutions to college, you’ll get a better feel for your goals, work toward reaching them, and ultimately decide if college is how you want to reach them.

12. Lack of student support

This is an issue that also contributes to why students drop out of college that goes beyond the student’s checkbook, the teacher’s capacity, and the difficulty of courses.

It involves the entire campus management model. Students may be suffering from a mix of issues that we explained above. They may not trigger an early dropout individually.

However, when more than one factor adds up, there should be an alert somewhere on the campus.

Students don’t leave college “just because.”

A student may be having a financial problem, but is highly motivated about his major and his classes.

He may not be looking to drop out, but rather for a chance to postpone a semester or two, and come back later.

However, if the student also lacks motivation, the chances of dropping out are greater.


A student may not be suffering from a financial problem, but is falling behind his courses.

If he is given timely support, he can get through it.

However, when the student finds himself overwhelmed with ever more complex material that he cannot digest, he can just give up.

A student may be failing one class after another, but he is motivated to finish his major.

If he has the vision to become a psychologist, a lawyer, or a nurse, he may be willing to fight through an extra year of retakes to fulfill it.

But when you add a sense of demotivation, when the student feels he does not know where that ship is going, chances are high that he will leave.

For students, it took hard work and a lengthy admissions process before going to college. Therefore, they do not just pack up their bags and leave.

Before leaving school, they go through a reflective process, and they may be seeking help somewhere. When they cannot find that, they enter a loophole of feelings and sensations: isolation, frustration, a loss of self-esteem, disconnection, confusion, until they decide to give up.

There are just some factors that could affect dropout rates. Your university may find other important ones. However, regardless of the reasons, the most important solution to this problem is to address in a timely manner these underlying problems.

If that does not happen, it’s not just about the student failing the school: the school is definitely failing the student.

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2 thoughts on “12 Reasons Why Students Drop out Of College | University”

  1. Hello, Diya

    Hope this response is reaching you at the right time. We have made updates to this article layout and both the name and date of publication now show from the title.

    Happy research and learning.

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