It has become a national scandal: Students study for years, go deeply into debt, and ultimately do not complete a degree.
As professors Bailey, Jaggars, and Jenkins have written in their excellent book, Redesigning America’s Community Colleges, the national average is that less than 40% of community college students will ever complete a degree or transfer to a four-year college or university. And the average in urban areas is about 18%. The degree-completion percentages are higher for four-year institutions, but the average there is still a dismal 59%.
The single biggest factor underlying these facts is that college students are presented with almost countless courses and paths to graduation, and the courses are not obviously linked to the graduation paths. So students drift and take courses that do not take them further down any particular path.