Gallup: Third of College Students Considering Withdrawing

Gallup: Third of College Students Considering Withdrawing a college student works in a team project in a software development program Students say they're dealing with emotional stress. (Xavier Galiana/AFP via Getty Images

By Nicole Wells | Wednesday, 27 April 2022 11:14 AM

A third of currently enrolled college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree (32%) say they have considered withdrawing for a semester or longer in the past six months, according to Gallup.

Among students pursuing an associate degree, 41% say they have considered stopping in the past six months.

According to the 2021 Lumina-Gallup State of Higher Education Study, the most common reason students gave for considering stopping was emotional stress, with 76% of those pursuing a bachelor’s and 63% of associate degree students saying stress made them consider stopping.

These findings represent a considerable change from 2020, when 42% of bachelor’s degree students and 24% of associate degree students considered withdrawing due to emotional stress.

COVID-19, the cost of attendance, and the coursework difficulty were the three next most reported reasons students gave, according to Gallup.

While COVID-19 reasons declined significantly from 2020 for bachelor’s students, Gallup found that coursework difficulty reasons rose by 17 percentage points for bachelor’s students and 10 points for associate degree students from 2020 to 2021.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have struggled with their coursework because of mental health issues or remote learning, with coursework challenges and mental health closely linked.

Academic struggles can increase feelings of stress, and stress can make concentrating on coursework and studying even more difficult, Gallup said.

Considering all racial and ethnic groups, multiracial students are the most likely to consider withdrawing, Gallup found, with 55% of associate and 48% of bachelor’s degree students who identify as multiracial reporting they have considered quitting for a semester or more.

Students who withdraw from higher education are often worse off than when they entered, with many carrying high debt levels without the benefit of a higher-earning degree.

Results for the 2021 Lumina-Gallup State of Higher Education Study are based on web surveys conducted Oct. 19 to Nov. 22, with U.S. adults aged 18-59 who have earned a high school diploma or degree but had not yet completed an associate or bachelor's degree.

Gallup surveyed 11,227 total U.S. adults, including 5,215 students currently pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree, 3,010 who have some college experience but no degree and are not currently enrolled and 3,002 individuals who have never enrolled in higher education.