A Third of College Students in US Considered Withdrawing From Programs in Past Six Months, Poll Finds

International students at university

Students currently enrolled in colleges in the United States have considered withdrawing from their program of study for a semester or more over the past six months, according to a Gallup poll, the global analytics and advisory firm.

The poll has found that a third or 32 percent of students pursuing a bachelor’s degree have considered making such a decision in 2021, similar to the 2020’s percentage (33 percent), Erudera.com reports.

According to the Gallup report, a moderately higher percentage, 41 percent of students pursuing an associate degree, have considered putting an end to their program in the past few months.

“Associate degree students are also about as likely to report they have considered withdrawing (41%) as they were in 2020 (38%),” the report reads.

Furthermore, it stresses that among racial and ethnic groups, multiracial students are most likely to have considered leaving college, with 55 percent of associate degree students and 48 percent of bachelor’s degree students considering doing so in the past sixth months.

Students said that the main reason why they have considered withdrawing was emotional stress. The majority – 76 percent of students pursuing a bachelor’s degree and 63 percent of associate degree students have considered it because of the emotional stress they have been experiencing at the time.

In addition to emotional stress, other reported reasons include the cost of attendance (36 percent of bachelor’s degree students and 31 percent of associate degree students) and coursework difficulty (34 percent of bachelor students and 24 percent of associate degree students).

Many students have mentioned coursework difficulty as the reason why they have considered putting an end to their education, which according to Gallup, is a reflection of the impact that the pandemic had on college students.

“Coursework difficulty is also more frequently cited as a reason for stopping out in 2021 than it was in 2020. In 2021, the percentage of bachelor’s degree students who report it was a major reason they considered stopping out increased by 17 percentage points to 34%,the report adds.

Likewise, the percentage of associate degree students saying that coursework was too difficult increased by ten points from 2020 (14 percent) to 2021 (24 percent).

COVID-19-related reasons were less reported among bachelor’s degree students since 2020, with 33 percent of bachelor’s and associate degree students, respectively, mentioning COVID-19 as a reason to consider withdrawing from their program of study.

Other reasons that bachelor’s and associate degree students mentioned include:

  • Health reasons not related to COVID-19 – (20 percent, each)
  • No longer interested – (15 percent of bachelor students, 14 percent associate degree students)
  • Education received was low quality – (14 percent of bachelor’s degree and nine percent of associate degree students)
  • Childcare/caregiver responsibilities – (12 percent of bachelor’s degree, 22 percent of associate degree students)
  • The degree was taking longer than expected – (12 percent each)

Results for the State of Higher Education 2022 Report by Gallup and Lumina Foundation are collected based on online surveys conducted over the period November 19 and 22, last year.

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