Stress. Anxiety. Money. Time. You may think these worries belong to working adults, but they’re also common among college students, particularly freshmen. Here are seven of the most common reasons why freshmen drop out of college.
1. Balancing work and school is too difficult.
Having to work is the number-one reason college students drop out, cited by 71 percent of students who left school.1 It’s just too difficult to find time for both. Struggling to work and study in the first year of college is often a sign that a student will not be able to get his or her degree. Of those students who failed to graduate, more than 6 in 10 said the statement “I had to work as well, and it was too stressful trying to do both” described their first year of school.2
2. Tuition is too expensive.
The second most common reason for a student to become a college drop out is the cost of tuition and fees. This is why tuition insurance is so crucial. While a student may be reluctant to pay for insurance on top of a big tuition bill, the cost is nominal compared to losing most or all of your pre-paid tuition because of a withdrawal mid-semester. Most colleges have a strict tuition refund policy that allows for only a fractional reimbursement when a student drops out after the first day or week of classes. Allianz Global Assistance tuition insurance covers the balance when a student withdraws for a covered reason, so you won’t have to shoulder a big financial loss.
3. A freshman may become seriously ill or injured.
While young adults, as a rule, are generally in good health, first-year college students are susceptible to certain serious illnesses. These include mononucleosis, which causes extreme and sometimes prolonged fatigue, and meningococcal meningitis, which causes inflammation of brain membranes. Eating disorders are another serious threat to students’ health, affecting as many as 13.5 percent of female students.3 Injuries, whether caused by college sports, a car accident or some other reason, are yet another concern. Allianz Global Assistance offers tuition insurance plans to protect students who must withdraw from school because of a covered serious illness or injury.
4. Freshmen are more stressed than ever.
Stress in college students is reaching new highs. A 2014 study of more than 150,000 freshmen found that 9.5 percent of respondents had frequently felt depressed during the past year, compared to 6.1 percent five years ago. And 34.6 percent “felt overwhelmed” by schoolwork and other commitments.4 The study also found that freshmen were studying more and socializing less than five years ago — good for grades, but bad for college mental health. Anxiety and depression in college students are serious health issues and should be treated as such. Allianz Global Assistance tuition insurance considers a student’s diagnosed psychological condition to be a covered reason for withdrawal from college.
5. Many freshmen aren’t academically prepared for college.
Nearly 60 percent of first-year college students discover that despite being accepted into college, they must take remedial classes in order to catch up, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.5 This readiness gap is smaller at the most selective colleges and largest at community colleges. “Lack of readiness for college is a major culprit in low graduation rates,” the center reports, “as the majority of students who begin in remedial courses never complete their college degrees.”
6. Some freshmen socialize too much.
The siren call of parties, drugs and alcohol is strong. And the consequences can be serious: One national study found that 14.6 percent of students said they had been hurt or injured because of alcohol or drug use, and almost 20 percent had performed poorly on a test or big project.6 The good news is that drinking appears to be declining among college freshmen, according to the large 2014 study.7 About a third said they had drunk alcohol at least occasionally in the past year, compared with almost half in a survey 10 years ago.
While some tuition insurance plans don’t cover withdrawals due to alcohol and drug abuse, Allianz Global Assistance tuition insurance is different. In addition to up to 100 percent coverage for withdrawals due to covered medical or psychological health conditions, the Advantage plan covers withdrawals due to any unforeseen reason at up to 50 percent.
7. Some freshmen aren’t emotionally ready for college.
Even students who are academically prepared may be overwhelmed by the prospect of so much independence and responsibility, or daunted by the demands of schoolwork. “I think the biggest problem for me is that college is the beginning of adulthood, and I’m just not ready to grow up yet,” confesses one student on College Confidential.8
If you’re a parent, talk to your college-bound freshman about his or her worries. If you’re a student, talk to your parents, and don’t hesitate to talk to counselors and resident advisors. Also remember there’s no rule that says, “Proceed immediately to college after high school, do not pass Go.” Taking a year to do other things may be the right decision for you.