What Can Stop Kids From Dropping Out

New York Times investigates college completion.  Georgia State managed to increase college completion while recruiting poorer students.

Article Link: What Can Stop Kids From Dropping Out

To cite one comparison, North Carolina State and Auburn enroll similar students, but the two universities have significantly different track records for the years 2003 through 2013. N.C. State raised minority students’ graduation rates by 12 percentage points during that time, nearly halving the gap between them and white students, while graduation rates for underrepresented students at Auburn actually declined and the gap grew to more than 20 percentage points.

It doesn’t require a genius to change the story line. Universities must give students personalized attention and useful academic feedback, leveraging technology to support them at scale. That’s Ivy League-style ministration, adapted for mass higher education. And it won’t break the bank.

A decade ago, Georgia State University — racially segregated until the 1960s and a stone’s throw from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace — was a poor-performing, big urban institution with low graduation rates and yawningly wide racial gaps. But even as the student body has become poorer and more ethnically and racially diverse, the overall graduation rate has climbed to 56 percent from 41 percent.

Even more remarkably, minority students, first-generation students and low-income students with federal Pell grants are earning degrees at a higher rate than their white peers.

Georgia State didn’t “solve” its dropout problem by recruiting better-pedigreed students. It found a model for the students they had. “Despite the conventional wisdom, demographics are not destiny,” Timothy Renick, the vice president for enrollment management and student success, told me.