I must admit that hearing about these 5 to-be juniors not returning to college is somewhat upsetting to a mother of a current sophomore.
The best decision my son ever made was to quit school.
He found his niche in life. The tougher decision was 3 years down the line when he resumed his studies, and was choosing between school and a lucrative job offer. But he had some exceptional experiences at his 2nd college; he was able to finish college without taking on any more debt, and pay off the debt from the 1st college very quickly. His final year at his 2nd college was essentially a full ride, based on the combination of merit money he earned and the need-based grants he qualified for as an independent student. I saved a lot of money because I didn't have to pay for those last 2 years at a pricey private where my son was unfocused and not performing particularly well.
It makes parents feel better to have their kids "on track" toward a 4 year degree, but it is a waste of money if the student is not engaged and not taking advantage of what the school has to offer.
But keep in mind that the majority of kids do stay in school. My d. is very different than my son. There is a tendency for students to get tired of their college campus after 2 years and crave some sort of change, but my daughter opted for a semester abroad during junior year. She's very goal oriented and much
more mature than her older brother was at the same age.
If I have any advice, it is simply to listen to and respect a kid who is talking about leaving a school. My son told me at the end of sophomore year that he was 95% sure that he wouldn't be returning the following fall, but I insisted on making a $500 nonrefundable housing deposit to hold a spot for him the following year. At the time I reasoned that I did not want the decision to leave forced on him by the lack of housing... in hindsight, if I had spent more time listening to him and less worrying about how I could persuade him to stay in school, I'd have saved my $500.
A 20-year-old is a different person than the 18 year old who started college 2 years earlier, usually far more capable of knowing their own mind and recognize when things are not working. At the same time, at that age your offspring don't always tell you the whole story -- you can't assume that you have a complete picture of why your kid wants to leave their college. There may be some very big problems or issues at the college that the student does not feel comfortable discussing with the parent.
That doesn't mean that every kid who thinks about leaving will do so; some will think it over and opt to stay. I just think its better to be open and give the student room to explore options. I think the worst case scenario would be a kid who was forced to stay in a bad situation without having resolved the underlying issues - in that case, the parent is throwing good money after bad, and whatever problems were causing the kid to want to leave may only intensify.