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Colleges tasked to cut drop-out rate

August 28, 2012
Salem News

Higher education usually leads to more income and often a better quality of life for those who benefit from it. And as Ohio officials understand, a higher percentage of college graduates should improve the entire state's economy.

But getting more Buckeye State residents into higher education does not appear to be the problem. Instead, it is getting more out with degrees.

Fewer than half those who enroll in Ohio public colleges and universities emerge with degrees. For various reasons, the others drop out before completing their educations.

That has contributed to the state's distressingly low percentage of working-age men and women who have bachelor's degrees or better. The percentage in Ohio is just 26, compared to the national rate of 31 percent.

Buckeye State higher education leaders are being asked to develop better methods of retaining students until they graduate. State Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro wants the task completed by mid-November.

Retention is not a new concern in higher education. College and university administrators use a variety of methods to keep students in school. And Ohio is not alone in having a dismal success rate.

Obviously, the challenge is complex. Part of the solution involves ensuring students who register for college classes are ready for them. That means public schools must become more effective in giving diploma holders the tools they need to succeed in colleges, universities or trade schools.

At the same time, institutions of higher education need to find better ways of keeping students, regardless of their abilities on entrance, from dropping out.

Again, higher education is not just a matter of improving Ohio's economy. It is one of bettering the lives of hundreds of thousands of families - and that alone is reason enough to make the campaign a priority at all levels of education in the Buckeye State.



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