What adult students want out of college

Adults considering obtaining a college degree have mixed ideas about the value of higher education, according to a new report by Public Agenda.

Public Agenda, in tandem with The Kresge Foundation, conducted a national survey of 1,336 adults who are considering enrolling in a college in the next two years. They found that while adults generally believe a college degree leads to better career opportunities, many still wonder if college is worth the investment.

A majority of adults surveyed expressed an interest in earning a degree to expand their career options. Slightly more adults said a bachelor's degree is a good investment (57%) than an associate degree or certificate (47%), and a third speculated that an associate degree or certificate wouldn't guarantee them a better job.

Many adults also indicated that they planned to transfer from a two-year college to a four-year college.  The report suggests that these adults overlook the value of earning a certificate or associate degree before transferring into a baccalaureate program, with only 26% of adults planning to complete course credits or a certificate and only 30% planning to complete an associate degree prior to earning a bachelor's degree.

And the majority seemed to underestimate how complicated the transfer process could be, according to the researchers. Less than half of respondents who planned to transfer suggested that they would want to know whether previous students had successfully transferred to or from an institution.

Why non-traditional student success is more important than ever

Despite demonstrating an interest in expanding their career opportunities, a third of adults surveyed indicated that they would decide what to study once they were enrolled in college. And many respondents weren't concerned with learning the number of graduates who found a job in their chosen field or how much grads typically earn. 

"More needs to be done to help individual adult prospective students understand how these metrics matter to them," the report argues (Dembicki, Community College Daily, 5/31).

Learn more: How flexible scheduling helps adult students succeed


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