New York Times contributor Susan M. Dynarski, who is also a professor of education, public policy, and economics at the University of Michigan, takes a closer look at what she calls the country's "dropout crisis", brought on by socioeconomic factors and home life—in addition to the rising cost of higher education in the United States. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, only one in two Americans --of the 60% who enroll in college-- graduate with a bachelor's degree.

Dynarski finds that that dropout rates are particularly high in first-generation students, or those whose parents did not attend college. The Census Bureau's data finds that 30% of first-generation students drop out within three years of college , which is three times the dropout rate of students with college degree-bearing parents.

Why is the dropout rate so high, particularly among first-generation students? First-generation students tend to have less money, have weaker academic preparation and attend colleges with fewer instructional resources. All of these have been shown to increase the likelihood of dropping out.

Critically, first-generation students also miss out on the advice, support and voice of experience provided by parents with firsthand experience of higher education. There is only so much information that overburdened guidance counselors can cram into students during a few short meetings.

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