The Empty Seat Problem

I was accepted into University of Wisconsin with a high GPA and SAT score out of high school. My first semester at college, I posted a 0.0 GPA. Wisconsin placed me on academic probation, and my parents recognized that something was seriously wrong. I went into treatment.
Forty-six percent of all college graduates fail to finish their four-year degrees. Something is wrong with that. That’s a large number of kids. They don’t all have a supportive family like I do. I’m lucky.

We can do better. We can be there, better, for them.

A thoughtful comment from a smart therapist I know got me wondering; why don’t they take attendance in college? OK not in lecture halls, but, what about discussion groups run by TA’s?

Shouldn’t three weeks of absence trigger a series of actions? The only plausible explanation for extended absence is … bad.

Half of your student body failing or dropping out every two years is … bad. Make no mistake, college is a business. This seems like smart business practice to me.

Why are we pretending that attendance is beneath college? Because college students are supposed to be grown up? Grown-ups aren’t even grown-up. That’s why I don’t watch the news.

2 thoughts

  1. My sister had a roommate who, while his GPA was not very good, still performed well enough to earn himself a degree. But in the last 3 months before graduation he fell off the face of the earth and did not attend a single class. So he did not complete the credits he needed to graduate and ultimately did not achieve his degree.
    He had mental health issues though I won’t profess to know their exact nature. But your post reminded me of his story as if it were yesterday. After FOUR YEARS essentially of attending classes and studying, he let it all go within 3 months. And no one stepped in to help. What a damn shame.

    1. That really is shame, and I’m afraid that there are thousands like him & I.
      Many of them should perhaps drop out of college (I did) but I also bet that many of them might just need a little help in order to finish.

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