Before colleges closed down, a surprising number of students had already dropped out. And many more will before they reopen.

For the few colleges that haven’t closed for the foreseeable future or moved to on line classes, it’s the start of the spring semester, but even for the rest, by this time in the typical, pre-pandemic academic year, according to the Department of National College Clearinghouse, one out of four of those who started school in the fall don’t go back to finish their freshman year and only one third do so before earning a degree. While the parents of the 58% who complete theirs within eight years are exhaling, many of those whose kids…