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Full text of "Why college students fail / by Alden Elon Imus, Jr"

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Alden El on Imus, Jr. 

University of Maryland 
College Park, Maryland 
April 4, 1941 



A high percentage of those entering college fail to fulfill the 
requirements for graduation. A study of some of the reasons for this will 
lead to steps that may improve this condition. 

Two of the greatest reasons are, in my opinion: (1) the lack of 
incentive to work; and (2) the improper choice of course. 

Three suggestions that may, to sowe extent, reduce this failure 
are: (l) the publication of guidance literature hy the school; (s) a more 
effective guidance and counseling system; and (3) more emphasis on regards 
for good scholarship. 



In the University of Maryland, according to a. study made "by the 
registrar, Hiss Preinkert , of the class of 1932, the average student mortal- 
ity ia fifty-seven per cent, that is, fifty-seven per cent of the students 
entering in 1928 did not graduate in 1932. A study made by the United States 
Department of the Interior shows that this mortality is sixty-eight per cent 
for an average of twenty-five schools. It should be of interest to the Uni- 
versity' and organizations such as Tau Beta Pi to know why such a large pro- 
portion of students fail. To attribute it to "dumbness" or "laziness" is to 
evade the problem, I believe that there are definite causes and that an 
honest attempt to remedy them would produce not only a larger percentage, 
but a better quality of graduates. 

In my opinion, failure in enough subjects to cause loss of class 
standing or dismissal from school is effected by two basic factors, the first 
of which being by far the more important. It is the LACK OE INCENTIVE TO 
WORK AND TO LEARN or, in other words, placing of study in a relatively unim- 
portant place in the student's schedule of activities. This factor in turn 
has a number of causes. They are as follows: 

(1. ) The lack of a genuine interest in the course pursued. This 
leads many young people with real ability to try to do as little as possible 
and still get by; only too often they do not get by. 

(2.) Students coming to college too young and without the realiza- 
tion of the value of a college education in the outside world. Of course, 
some types of people do very well when coming into college after an early 
graduation from high school, but from my observation, those that Btayed out 



of school a year or more between high school and college have consistently 
achieved far greater success in college. They have a deep impression of the 
meaning of an education in getting and holding a good job. 

(3. ) The common idea that college is the place to enjoy the best 
time of one's life and that studies are the sifle issue to be pursued only 
when time from other activities permits. This presents a most difficult prob- 
lem in the case of registrants from wealthy homes as they see little need 
for working. 

The second major reason has received far more attention from uni- 
versity authorities than the first. It is as follows: I I/PROPER CHOICE OF 
many people can learn one type of subject much more easily than they can an- 
other. A common example of this is the difference between such subjects as 
mathematics and history. One who does well in one of these often does not 
care for the other. Consequently a freshman who has an unwise choice 
will be unlikely to succeed unless a change is made. It is also an obvious 
fact that there are some people who are admitted to college who just have low 
ability. It has been found that such students can often get along in courses 
of the descriptive type rather than the abstract, i. e. geology, zoology and 
botany rather than physics, chemistry or mathematics. Supposedly the entrance 
requirements would prohibit anyone who was absolutely unable to pass this 
type of course. 

To remedy some of these situations is next to impossible. Others, 
I believe, can be greatly improved by (1) the publication of literature by 



the university concerning the requirements for probable success in collage, 
(2) a more effective guidance and counseling system than is usually prac- 
ticed and (3) more emphasis on rewards for scholastic achievement. 



1. Bulletin of the Am er ican Society of Collegiate Registrars , Vol. XI, 1936 

2. Bi llet in o f t he A merica . Society of Colle giate Reg istrars , Vol. XII, 1937 

3. Journal of the American Society of Coll egiate R egi s trays , Vol, XIII, 1938 

4. Journal of the American Society of Collegiate R egistrars , Vol. IX, 1939 

5. College Student Mortality , Bulletin 1937, Ho. 11, Office of Education, 
Department of the Interior, "by John H. I'eNeely 



1. Bulletin of the A meri can Societ y of Collegiate Re g i strains , Vol. XI, 1936 

2. Bu llet in o f the American Societ y . of ,C oil e giate,. Reg istrars , Vol. XII, 1937 

3. Journal of the American Society of Collegiate Registr ar s , Vol. XIII, 1933 

4. Journal of the American Society of Collegiate Registrars , Vol. IX, 1939 

5. College Student Llortality , Bulletin 1937, No. 11, Office of Education, 
Department of the Interior, by John H. McNeely