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How to thrive at college

How to thrive at college

Lots of young Americans go to college, but a large proportion of them never gain a degree. Federal Government figures show a 33% graduation rate for students on four-year degrees at public colleges and universities, rising to 57.6% after six years. To graduate in four years, students need to accrue 15 credits per semester, and it seems two thirds are not managing that. One extreme example is at Chicago State University, where just 52% of full-time students finish their sophomore year, and 2.5% cross the finish line to gain a degree within four years.

The figures for private colleges and universities are better, but still far from stellar at 52.8% and 65.4% graduating with a degree after four and six years respectively. (source:

So what are the barriers to completion of a degree? Could it be because many students are ill-prepared for college life? Do they simply lose sight of their goals in the social whirlwind of being at college? Or maybe they hit a financial brick wall and are unable to continue their studies, especially with the financial burden of an extra one or two years at college to get the credits they need.

The education think tanks are bubbling with suggestions on how to improve these figures by changing policies and procedures at colleges and universities, but what about taking a look back at the final year of high school to see whether the roots of the problem lie there?

High school careers advice is variable in quantity and quality. Some parents are turning to dedicated external programs to prepare their children for college. One example is Voyage by Thrive Academics, an online course that teaches students to find their purpose, acquire essential life skills, pick a career path and act with financial responsibility on matters like loan debt. It also imparts some down-to-earth day-to-day practical advice about things like medical care, driver’s licenses, travel and many of the more mundane aspects of life as a young adult that students may not have had the time or the inclination to pick up on while they were in high school.

A wrong choice of degree course can lead to what a former university president writing for describes as ‘Higher Education’s Hotel California’ – spending time in the first and second years on remedial courses that are usually paid extra for and which can be like pounding a square peg into a round hole. Degree selection is crucial, and Voyage gives students an interactive online space to reflect deeply on their choices before they tick that box that could affect the rest of their lives.

Voyage not only helps them make the right choices, but to carry them through the college years with sound advice on every important aspect of self-management that can improve their chances of success, and a career that works for life.