We thank NYU Alumini Blog and National Public Radio for the information in this article about how to overcome the 3 biggest obstacles and finish college. 

A college education is a massive investment. Yes, we realize this is an NYU alumni blog, so we may be preaching to the choir here. But imagine–what if after such a large investment of time and money you were unable to pull through to the finish line?

Marcia CantarellaWell, fellow A&S alumna and former NYU Director of Academic Enhancement from 1991-1999, Marcia Cantarella (GSAS ’92, ’97), is an expert on how to overcome the 3 biggest obstacles and finish college.

In fact, Dr. Cantarella is the author of I CAN Finish College: The How to Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide and she was recently featured on National Public Radio’s Tell Me More discussing the topic.

We had the pleasure of talking to Dr. Cantarella about how to overcome the 3 biggest obstacles and finish college –why are some students not able to finish their college studies, and what can they do to change that?

Dr. Cantarella also offers some advice on how to make the best out of being an alum.

how to overcome the 3 biggest obstacles and finish collegeYour book, I CAN Finish College, is a guide that offers advice for overcoming obstacles that often delay or prevent college students from receiving their degrees. What are the most common reasons for students to drop out of college?

I think of them in as the three Fs. Fun, Finances and Fear. Fun is when a student released into the relative freedom of college discovers s/he is a party animal and has a rough time getting to that 8 am class. Students may go overboard in taking advantage of the freedom and lose sight of the point of college—getting an education.

I have known girls from strict boarding schools who in the first semester started dating the local drug dealer. Or boys caught up in hazing with sometimes tragic results. Fun carried too far is a cause for failure – with maybe even life changing results.

Financial issues are a big reason cited for dropping out. Students may not know how to access all the resources they should to pay for college, ranging from obscure scholarships to federal tax credits.

They may take on too much in work to pay for school and then suffer the consequences as Nina the star character of the play “In The Heights” does. They may “drop” a class without deregistering and end up with both a bill they can’t pay and an F. Which takes us to Fear.

Students are afraid of going to administrators, advisors or instructors to get guidance in navigating college.This fear can have disastrous consequences in falling afoul of key deadlines, policies or regulations. It can be as simple as not asking for help in writing a paper and then failing the course.

Are there any lesser-known reasons that college students don’t finish their studies?

This goes back to the items above. The fear of not asking questions or asking for help is huge but not discussed as much as the issue of finances. Students have a misconception about inquiry and college.

Colleges are where inquiry thrives and people who ask questions are valued. Faculty begin their work with a research question. It is not a space where those in authority will look down on students for asking questions in class or asking for help outside class. They will think they are engaging the institution in the right way and support the student who comes forward asking to know or understand more .

But too many students sit in a Bio 101 class with no clue of what is going on and praying that someone else will ask the question. So the whole class may suffer because no one asks. They are not then flocking to tutoring centers either or seeking out their advisors.

The fear question is playing a part here. It is the fear of looking like you don’t know. But how could you know—you have come to college to learn about what you don’t know. So not knowing is normal. Asking is a good thing.

In December… read the rest of the article here.

Pat Wyman

Pat Wyman is the best selling author of  Instant Learning for Amazing GradesLearning vs. Testing, CEO and founder of HowToLearn.com . and the creator of the Personal Learning Styles Inventory.

I can finish college