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The world's richest college dropout urges colleges to stop dropouts

Published: Monday, Nov. 19 2012 2:35 p.m. MST

Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Associated Press

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There's been an ongoing active discussion about the cost of education, from student loans to jobless grads being crushed by debt, Jordan Weissmann wrote at The Atlantic. When it comes to solving those types of problems, Weissmann said, more people should listen to college dropout and billionaire Bill Gates.

"At most colleges, and for most students — the ones who don't go to schools covered in ivy — the real problem isn't necessarily cost; it's completion. It's our country's abysmal graduation rates — less than sixty percent of undergraduates finish a bachelor's degree within six years; less than 30 percent finish two-year programs on time — which have fallen well behind much of the industrialized world. We're on pace to produce millions fewer college graduates than our economy will need in the coming decades, Gates argued, and a big part of that is our inability to get students already enrolled in college to graduation day.

"'For the broad set of students going to higher ed, we're already not doing what we need to do,' he said.

"Gates sees this problem largely as a matter of incentives. Publications such as U.S. News and World Report reward colleges for the resources they spend on students and their exclusivity, but not necessarily for their results. High SAT scores will move a colleges up in the rankings (and so, it should be noted, will having a high graduation rate). Making sure your alums have a well-paid job, or a job at all, will not."

Read more about college problems on The Atlantic.

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