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Education Report: Students leaving college cite stress as main reason

Almost a million students stopped attending college or universities over the past two years, citing emotional stress and other factors, but a new Lumina/Gallup Student Study reveals about 85% are interested in returning.
KERA
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Almost a million students stopped attending college or universities over the past two years, citing emotional stress and other factors, but a new Lumina/Gallup Student Study reveals about 85% are interested in returning.

A recent survey suggests financial problems and other factors make college life unsustainable for some.

Audio Transcript

Students who drop out of college are saying stress is the main reason they’re not staying in school. Epiphany La'Sha of the Texas News Service reports.

La’Sha: Nationally, COVID-19 has been devastating for many people pursuing higher education - almost a million stopped attending college or universities in the last two years. But a new report from Gallup and the Lumina Foundation finds that eighty-five percent of the people that dropped out, did so because of emotional stress. Courtney Brown is with Lumina Foundation.

Brown: "High percentages said that they know they need a degree or certificate to gain skills, to get a job. So, the survey actually shows that there is a great value in higher education. And that is even for people who have never been part of higher education. "

Those surveyed included current students who left their programs during the pandemic as well as those who were eligible but did not enroll. More Black and multi-racial students are struggling to take classes or stay in, according to the survey, citing difficulties in their ability to maintain coursework, on top of the other stresses. But Brown says the highest percentage of those considering coming back is also from the groups that are struggling the most. Students with annual incomes below 24-thousand dollars reported the greatest challenges remaining in college.

Brown: "Financial aid packages were the number one reason that students stayed enrolled, even when they were feeling stressed about it. The fact that they were getting money to stay in school is really telling. We have to do a better job of communicating where opportunities exist for financial aid packages."

Gov. Greg Abbott allocated $94.6 million in federal COVID-19 relief money for higher education programs in Texas to support students to navigate college during the pandemic. Emotional stress is still skyrocketing, according to Brown, even with some sense of normalcy returning.

Brown: "So, these things are not going away, and I think institutions need to pay attention to it and figure out how they can better serve the whole student – not just the academics of the student but the emotional health of the students also."

Over eleven-thousand high school graduates were surveyed. The most popular credentials were associate and certificate programs.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.