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Good Graph Friday: Going to college, but never getting a diploma

Complete College America

The stereotypical idea of going to college is to leave home, move into a dorm, attending class full-time and send at least a chunk of the bills to Mom and Dad.

A new report from an organization called Complete College America finds that that stereotype is the exception, not the rule.

Instead, Complete College says, about three-fourths of U.S. college students these days are commuting from off campus, and they are often also juggling family and/or work responsibilities in addition to their classes.

About 40 percent are going part-time, according to the advocacy group, which is working to increase the number of Americans with a college degree. Part-time students are less likely to ever get their diploma, even when given more time than full-time students, they find.

The research is based on data provided by 33 states, including California, Ohio, Indiana and Massachusetts.

The report comes as Americans increasingly struggle with two big issues: How to pay for the rising cost of college, and how to regain the nation’s economic momentum.

Despite the burden of finding time and money for college, many do still think it’s a key way to get ahead in life.

The unemployment rate for people with a college degree or higher was 4.3 percent in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For people with just a high school degree, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent.

What’s to be done? Complete College recommends a number of steps designed to make it easier for people to juggle school and work, such as scheduling classes at predictable times and allowing for more work to be done online. They also recommend finding ways to get people through college faster.


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