A couple of million sets of U.S. parents just realized a dream: They sent sons and daughters off to colleges. Most immediately set their sights on a new dream: attending graduation ceremonies at those colleges.

But right about now, some are getting the first clues that might not happen. A few know it won’t — because their kids have already dropped out.

“I had a student leave the first week,” says Marcus Hotaling, a psychologist who directs the counseling center at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

“It does happen,” says Marjorie Savage, parent program director at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

In fact, surveys by ACT (the non-profit company behind the ACT test) show one-third of freshmen do not become sophomores at the colleges where they started.

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