Why Do They Fail? Statistics show that most people who begin high school finish. Some drop out, of course, but approximately three-quarters earn a diploma. At the post-secondary level, however, fewer than two-thirds of the students complete their program of study. Why do so many college and university students drop out? Knowing the factors that prevent students from completing their post-secondary programs may prove crucial to you regardless of whether you are presently a college student or thinking of becoming one.
Most educators agree that the principal causes of failure are lack of basic skills, lack of study skills, and lack of motivation. A firm grasp of basic skills—what are termed the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic—is a must for college or university work. Not only are texts and research material more difficult to understand than they were in high school, but also the quantity of required reading is greater.
The ability to express oneself clearly in standard written English is essential; garbled essays, ungrammatical reports, or poorly spelled and punctuated papers will be routinely failed by instructors, regardless of the ideas the writer may think he is expressing. Similarly, mathematical skills are essential to a student’s success in many post-secondary programs. Business, science, technology, and some applied arts programs require sound computational skills. Post-secondary students who lack these basic skills often find little remedial help available and little instructor tolerance for poor work; hence, they fall behind and drop out.