Adults without a bachelor’s degree want to go back to college, but worry about the student loans and overall affordability, finds a nationwide survey from Full Circle Research and Champlain College Online.
Researchers at Full Circle conducted this online survey with a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 23 and 55 who did not have bachelor’s degrees. Respondents were asked about their perceptions of higher education and online learning.
Respondents expressed a positive attitude toward college. Around 70% of respondents believe colleges successfully prepare adult students for the workplace, and 70% believe having a bachelor’s degree is important to secure a job. Roughly 60% have considered returning to school to complete a degree.
However, finances pose a major barrier. About 75% of respondents say they worry about student loans and 70% feel unable to afford college.
For too many of these students, however, the financial barriers to degree completion seem too high.
The University of Alabama’s College of Continuing Studies tackles financial re-entry barriers with their “Back to Bama” Campaign. The campaign targets students who suffered an academic “false start” and provides a clean slate as well as financial incentives to return. Students are invited to enroll in their first course for free and complete a simple form to be eligible for scholarships and financial aid.
Ultimately, easing the path for re-enrollment is critical to filling the more than 6 million open jobs in the United States, writes Jeremy House for Education Dive. And equipping adult learners with the skills they need to advance their careers requires collaboration between employers, colleges, and policy makers, he argues.
For instance, Monroe Community College (MCC) partners with regional businesses to better understand local employment needs. In 2017, the college mined local and state government sources as well as surveyed 2,400 Rochester businesses on openings and desired skills to create real-time data on the regional labor market. MCC takes these findings and tailors course offerings to prepare students for employment.
Dedicating staff to these roles builds the capacity for more significant revenue-generating activities, according to a dataset of 230+ institutions.
Read more about the adult learner market
Lately, it seems like every campus is talking about the adult learner market and how to attract, recruit, and support this elusive student population.
Adult learners in one specialized program are almost 3x more likely to graduate than adult learners in traditional courses.