America has a college dropout problem. For all the talk of college costs and whether students can even afford to go to college, we’ve tended to skip past an equally crucial question—whether students who make it to campus are graduating with a useful credential. The sad reality is that far too many students invest scarce time and money pursuing a degree they never finish, frequently winding up worse off than if they’d never set foot on campus in the first place.
How common is this? In a word: very. In 2016, more than 48% of first-time, full-time students who started at a four-year college six years earlier had not yet earned a degree.