If you’re going to go into debt for a college education, you’re better off to finish and at least get the degree.

Melissa Korn writes at the Wall Street Journal.

A Bit of College Can Be Worse Than None at All

Lauren Bizzaro has three years of college credits from High Point University in North Carolina and the University of Rhode Island. But with no degree, those credits got her little more than a late start in the professional world and a $40,000 student-loan balance.

Until recently, Ms. Bizzaro earned $11.50 an hour dressing, feeding and bathing patients as a licensed nursing assistant at a long-term-care and rehabilitation facility in Vermont. Now a unit coordinator who handles clerical tasks like arranging doctor appointments and updating patient charts, she can’t move further up the ranks without additional credentials, according to her employer.

Once an aspiring nurse, Ms. Bizzaro, age 25, says she has felt “stuck and defeated” and has shifted her expectations about starting a career and settling down in her 20s.

Americans have flocked to colleges in unprecedented numbers in the last half-decade, fueled by a conviction that postsecondary education is the surest route to steady employment and higher salaries.

Yet those who begin, but don’t complete, a degree are learning the hard way that the payoff is in finishing—or that they might have been better off not attending college at all.

The number of students who don’t complete college is growing. Nearly one-third of students who started college in 2012 didn’t return to a U.S. school the following year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. And a new report out from a group of higher-education organizations found that roughly two-thirds of students who return to school after interrupted courses of study still don’t graduate.