Majority of College Students Find Difficulty Staying Interested in Classes

According to a new report, most students are also finding it increasingly more challenging to afford tuition and course materials.
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  • The overwhelming majority of students want real-world experience to stay engaged in coursework.
  • Twenty-nine percent of students feel they will be lacking job-related skills when they enter the workforce after graduation.
  • More than half of students had trouble paying for tuition and course materials in 2022.
  • Instructors saw increases in dropouts and students taking on part-time jobs to pay for school.

Keeping college students engaged in their programs is becoming a challenge as they experience increased financial strains and feel they lack real-world education.

A new report from Wiley, an academic publishing company, reveals that 55% of undergraduate students are having trouble staying engaged or interested in their classes.

An equal percentage of students also report they're having challenges retaining the materials in their classes, while 48% say they're having trouble keeping up with their class work.

To increase engagement, students want more content that is current and applicable to the real world. Eighty-one percent of undergraduates say it is important or very important that their schools offer real company-led projects. But only 30% of surveyed instructors say their institutions offer these types of projects.

Currently, almost 1 in 5 students (17%) say they feel their institution is not preparing them well for employment in the real world after they graduate. And more than 1 in 4 students (29%) say they feel they will be lacking job-related skills when they enter the workforce after graduation.

In addition to difficulties staying engaged in coursework, students are increasingly finding it challenging to afford their programs.

Fifty-one percent reported challenges paying for tuition and course materials in 2022, and 43% reported challenges paying for living expenses. Between 2021 and 2022, the percentage of students struggling with tuition and course fees increased by 8 percentage points. During the same period, the percentage of students struggling with living expenses increased by 14 percentage points.

Nearly half of surveyed instructors (45%) report that they saw a larger number of students taking on part-time jobs to address affordability concerns in 2022, while 39% saw more students drop out of school entirely over the last year.

Students finding it more and more difficult to pay for school amid inflation concerns, a cost of living crisis, and looming recession is why some schools have tried to take measures to offer more aid and lower tuition costs. Still, only 10% of institutions have increased financial aid, scholarship, and grant offerings; while just 5% are lowering tuition, according to the report.

Generally, students are looking for more support from their institutions and instructors during their educational journey. At least 45% of undergraduate students reported that support and extra help from their instructors has aided their academic experience. Forty-eight percent of graduate students said the same.

The report's researchers suggest that by offering more career-connected educational experiences, and further financial and emotional support, institutions can significantly improve falling retention and enrollment rates.