A couple of thoughts on that…
Many students no longer finish in six years.
I was really motivated and took lots of classes, but I took six years to finish. (I was one class short, went off to two years of mission work, and that was the field work for my last class. I wrote a paper, sent it back, and I was finished in six years.) I don’t think of myself as taking six years, because I keep thinking I was through before I went. I certainly didn’t take a class after I got back.
And people like my mother or one of my students, KP, who went to school years ago and are coming back later in life, after the kids are grown, also don’t finish in six years.
But the real problem/issue is that of those students who take remedial classes, only 25% finish college in six years.
From my experience at the community college and college level, I will say that some students who come to college don’t have the education for it. That’s a sad thing to say and I don’t mean that remedial students shouldn’t go to college. One of the reasons I got my PhD was so that I could contradict teachers who said remedial students shouldn’t come to college with some expertise behind my words. What I mean is the students aren’t willing to do the work. Sometimes, but less often than you would think, perhaps, based on the remedial classes, the students are NOT able to do the work. But most of the time, they don’t have and don’t want to develop the study and organizational skills necessary to finish in six years.
I have had students who are more interested in poker than class. Many students are more interested in their social life than class. Many students haven’t ever, they said, written a paper and they don’t want to stop that “winning” streak now.
I would say that those students are way more common than one would expect given that it is taking some of their time and sometimes some of their money (see other post for that). But they are not all the students who won’t finish in six years.
I have students who are the primary care giver for family members. They can’t take full loads.
I have students who are working to support a family. They are taking classes around their work. They won’t finish in four years or six, maybe not even eight. But they’re the ones I really admire because when they finish, they will know they earned that degree.
I have students who interrupt their studies to care for the health and well-being of their children. Someone needs to and sometimes the student parent is the only person available.
Yes, many students won’t finish in six year. So what? Is there some law that says they have to? Yes, a college education pays more, usually, than a high school education. But some people don’t have the time to make a full-time commitment. And some people, regardless of what we want to think, are not mentally able to do the work, either from lack of knowledge or lack of skills.
Not everyone has to go to college.
If they aren’t interested, in fact, I wish they wouldn’t go. They are wasting taxpayer money to stave off grown up responsibilities, in some of those cases.
And if they want to go, but have family responsibilities that keep them from committing to college full time, I don’t mind that it takes them longer to finish than six years.