Yes, those graduation stats are surprisingly low, but what are we to make of it?
Suppose we learned that two-thirds of the viewers who tuned into some TV program changed the channel or turned it off before it was over. Would that be an indictment of the viewers? Of the program? Maybe we’d just say the program didn’t match the interests of most of the audience. No indictments needed.
With college education, some American students are very eager, disciplined learners. They all graduate. Many others, however, are indifferent or even mildly hostile to academic pursuits and have gone to college only because of pressure from parents and guidance counselors, and the widespread notion that if you don’t get a degree you’ll never get a good job. After a semester or two, many of those kids change their minds.
The temptation is to think,”Isn’t it a shame so many don’t graduate?”, but perhaps it would be worse if those students spent even more time and money doing something they aren’t interested in. Let’s not assume that every student benefits from accumulating enough credits to get the degree.