We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Quickest way to increase grad rates would be to simply sell degrees, or to hand them out for free like the Wizard of Oz.
Now I do realize that a "college degree" no longer necessarily means a Liberal Arts degree as proof that one has mastered a language or two, calculus, sciences, masterworks of philosophy, theology, and literature, etc: many colleges today entail various combinations of remedial education, high-school level coursework, and job training. Flunking out is a thing of the past, so lots of folks must just figure it's not worth the trouble. They could be right.
The six-year mark is probably a reasonable standard but we should be a little careful evaluating dropouts. In my own case, I took my first classes in 1975-1976, got my first associate's degree in 1979, a Bachelor's in 1989, another Associate's in 1990, a Master's in 1994. I collected units from a lot of colleges along the way. So which of them counted me as a dropout?
Well, I took 7 years to finish a nominally 4-year degree (B.S. - Mechanical Engineering). Primarily due to economics...for the last bunch of years I was in an Engineering Intern position, where I'd work full-time for a quarter, then go to classes full-time for a quarter. I'd also take a night class in my "work quarter", and worked part-time during my "school quarter. I couldn't afford the University any other way.
So maybe an increasing number of people are having to do the same thing, given the escalating costs of tuition, fees and books. Take some classes for a quarter, work for a quarter.
Well, "was" is the operative word. Your definition of a college education sounds like it came out of the 1930s. Mind you, I'm not saying the content isn't desirable. Although I do suspect there are plenty of rich guys who got Ivy League BAs without achieving mastery of all the subjects you mentioned.
I had a job that involved legal oversight and compliance work. We got a new manager in. She wanted us to do our work a lot better. She told us her goal would be to reduce the number of complaints we received.
When we stopped laughing, we tried to explain to her that the number of complaints received is the wrong metric. It doesn't actually tell you anything - for instance if you really improve self-reporting, you'll have a lot more complaints to handle, but if you decide to sanction retaliation by managers, that'll reduce the number of complaints received too.
Cf. college basketball graduation rates - there's a difference between players going 4 years and never graduating, and players attending 1-2 years and then dropping out to go pro.
Anyhow, the manager lasted longer in that office than I did.
One of your links above is to an article about an especially ridiculous associate professor's article decrying "gendering" and other patriarchal crimes. Someone in the hilarious comments section (worth reading, by the way) characterized this whole area of academia as "Angry Studies." There's a lot of this finger-painting and encounter-group nonsense going on in universities, none of it particularly conducive to a student's soldiering on to get a degree in four years and then getting on with his life in his field of training. Well, unless he wants a career teaching Angry Studies.