The University of Minnesota is the second-largest higher education institution in the country. As with many large public Universities, a significant portion of students here fail at receiving degrees in four years. Taking full credit loads is imperative to graduating on time, something that students who work while attending school have difficulty balancing. According to the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting, nearly 50 percent of entering students do not finish their career and only 27 percent of students at the University graduate in four years or less.
Finding a sense of belonging at the school that one attends is key to finding success and motivation in class. Unfortunately for many working students, being an active member of the campus community is simply not a possibility. Most have the burden of paying for their own education, housing and transportation. This is to say nothing of the social responsibilities that they have outside of school.
Approximately 9.6 percent of University of Minnesota students come from households whose incomes total at less than 30,000 a year. Considering that the University has a population of nearly 50,000 students, that is a very significant number of students whose educations are affected by work.
The latest results from the National Survey of Student Engagement shows that of 160,000 freshmen and seniors from 470 institutions, one-fifth of those students are “disengaged” meaning they do not take part in campus cultural events.
The University maintains an extremely diverse atmosphere where there is not one single student experience. As stated earlier, students succeed in school when they feel like they belong. This is why the University offers more than 400 student groups, resource centers and learning communities. Sadly, many working students do not have the time to participate in these groups.
In a culture that promotes individualistic behavior, the burden of success falls upon the student. In a time when many students cannot participate in the campus community, the University needs to remember that working students literally cannot afford to.