An estimated 40% of students who begin college don’t graduate from their initial school within six years. While some take longer or transfer to a different institution, a great deal of these students drop out altogether. Seeking to learn the causes behind college dropout, Michigan State University analyzed surveys of over 1,000 college freshmen from ten different schools. Students were asked whether they’d recently experienced twenty different “critical events” (ranging from poor grades and money troubles to job recruitment and inheriting money) and were asked whether they planned to withdraw. Of the twenty critical events, depression was the factor most frequently linked with academic withdrawal. Other leading experiences included roommate conflicts, unexpected bad grades, recruitment to a job or different school, and increased financial burden (either losing financial aid or experiencing a drastic hike in tuition or living costs).
Depression has been on the rise in college campuses for the past several years, so it should come as little surprise that it’s influencing students’ decision to drop out of school. University counseling resources are being tapped by an increasing number of undergraduates, many of whom site financial strains on their family as a primary cause of personal angst, pressure and even guilt. The slow economy also serves as a metaphorical cloud over these students’ future plans, who fear meager job prospects upon graduation.
By shedding further light on the problem of college student depression, this Michigan State University may further inspire institutions to provide on-campus counseling and mental health outreach to their students. However, it’s also of note to those in the business sector. “We see a lot of similarities in how employees and students decide to quit,” said MSU project research Jessica Keeney says. The strategies schools use to support their students’ mental health may also be applicable for employers seeking to maintain a consistent and healthy workforce.
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