The Some College, No Degree Market Is Growing

By: Emma Rose Sep 27, 2022

The Some College, No Degree Market Is Growing

Everyone is haunted by the ghost of at least one unfinished project. Maybe it’s the screenplay buried in a long-unopened folder on a hard drive. It could be the classic car with boxes of new parts in the trunk, just waiting for a free weekend that never seems to come. For some, it’s the bedroom wall, sporting the same three paint swatches taped up there a year ago. If only someone would decide which shade of green to choose.

Nobody starts projects expecting not to finish, but life and circumstances get in the way. Materials were harder to source than expected, things got busy at work, someone was sick or finances got tight. Under these conditions, a short break quickly turns into weeks or months away. Getting back into it feels like an overwhelming task. Eventually, the unfinished project becomes part of the background, easy to forget about until someone asks.

For the 39 million people in the United States with some college, no degree, their unfinished business is a college credential. And unlike the bedroom wall, it’s going to take more than a weekend to finish what they started. They’ll need support from colleges and universities that understand returning adult students.

The Some College, No Degree Population is Growing

The number of people with some college, no degree has increased by 9% in just two years. That may not be a surprise since 2020 and 2021 were challenging years for many people. The uncertainties of the pandemic likely contributed to this growth.
Students generally stop-out for a handful of reasons:

  • Finances
  • Family commitments
  • Time constraints
  • Health
  • Change in Employment

Most of these circumstances are more likely to affect lower-income students, first-generation college students, and those from historically underserved populations.

One concerning point worth noting is that students belonging to racial and ethnic minorities make up a larger than an equitable number of some college, no degree students. Latinx students make up 20.7% of the overall undergraduate population but 23.2% of SCNC students. Black students account for 13.6% of all undergrad students but makeup 16.6% of the SCNC population.

Returning Adult Students Represent An Opportunity for Colleges

It might seem discouraging that so many students are putting their college degrees on hold. But there’s an opportunity here for colleges. During the 2021-2022 academic year, nearly 1 million students re-enrolled in a post-secondary program. More than 38% went back to the same institution they’d started with.

Successfully bringing these students back helps colleges and universities fulfill several core goals.

  • Support students from minority and historically underserved populations.
  • Increase completion rates.
  • Help students earn credentials that can advance their careers and improve their lives.

Some might say colleges even have a responsibility to bring these students back and help them finish what they started. Nobody starts a project expecting not to finish, and nobody starts college expecting to stop without a degree. If students hit a roadblock, it makes sense that colleges would help clear the path.

Dispel the ghosts of unfinished degrees by making it easy for students to return and complete their credentials. Plan and launch a stopout campaign with help from the higher ed marketing experts here at EDDY. Our team of dedicated enrollment management coaches connects with stop-out students, develops a re-entry plan, and coaches them through the re-start process.