The United States once had the world’s highest high school and college graduation rates. Since 1970, the country has dropped from number one to number 21 in high school completion and number 15 in college completion, reports The New York Times.
The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts states that nearly one-third of all public high school students fail to graduate with their class. Many students drop out with less than two years to go.
The High Cost of Low Graduation Rates: How Much Does Dropping Out of College Really Cost? found that less than 60 percent of college freshmen earn four-year degrees within six years.
Students quit both high school and college for a variety of reasons. Family obligations, financial problems, health conditions and other personal issues can play a role, but some students give up because they hold themselves back. Fear of failure can also destroy your chance for success by keeping your expectations of yourself too low—for example, giving up on school might seem like a better idea than sticking around but getting bad grades. Here are a few suggestions that might help you out:
Show up. If you want to be a better student, show up. Go to school! You won’t know what’s going on if you skip class. To quote Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Stop procrastinating Psychologist William Knaus estimated that up to 90 percent of college students procrastinate, claims the University at Buffalo Counseling Services department. Twenty-five percent of students who procrastinate are “chronic procrastinators” and often wind up dropping out of college. If you’re uncertain of your priorities and objectives, you might feel overwhelmed by assignments and wind up procrastinating instead. Fear of getting a bad grade causes a lot of students to procrastinate, too. It is possible to overcome procrastination.
Discover your learning style. Different people learn new information in different ways. Visual learners benefit from visual aids like charts, graphs and seeing the instructor. Aural learners benefit from hearing new material, either in the form of lectures or by reading to themselves out load. Verbal learners learn best through language, such as listening and reading. Knowing and understanding your learning style can contribute to your success in school and help you become a better student.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Some students are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help when things confuse them. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. It’s doubtful that you’re the only person who is confused and other students will be grateful if you ask the instructor to clarify something. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Realize that perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be. Unless you plan on becoming a college professor yourself, prospective employers generally care more about relevant work experience in your field than your grades, reports The New York Times. Yes, grades are important if you want to get into graduate school (or get into college, if you’re still a high school student) but your personality and real-world experience are generally more important than what you earned in chemistry class your freshman year. The stress associated with striving to earn straight A’s is often not worth it.
Find a mentor. Spending as little as one hour per week with a teacher, professor or other trusted adult can help you improve your academic skills, discover talents you didn’t know you had, and help change your life for the better. It’s unfortunate, but many parents offer their children little to no support when it comes to staying in school. A trusted mentor can help provide the moral support and a confidence boost that some students need.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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