Phi Beta Cons

America Has Always Had a Rather High College Dropout Rate

In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, I discuss the recent paper by Prof. John Thelin, a paper that disproves the notion that there was some golden age in American higher education when nearly all students who enrolled completed their studies and graduated.

High dropout rates were not perceived as any problem (except insofar as it hurt school finances) because educational credentialitis had not set in.

Thelin suggests that dropout rates today are “troubling,” but I can’t see why. We’ve badly oversold higher education. Many of those who drop out are wisely cutting their losses on an expensive credential that probably won’t do them any good.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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