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April 17, 2010
 



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Why do more than 70 million adults want to head back to school?

Nashville, Tennessee, August/2006

A recent study of adult Americans regarding continuing education found this:
Nine out of 10 (89%) said the benefits of higher education are equal to or greater than the time, money, and energy invested.
That is impressive considering the rising costs of education.

"One of the big surprises was the mix of reasons why people thought it would be beneficial to get more education," said Lyungai Mbilinyi, PhD, author of the study report. "Although 71 percent did think additional education would help them earn more, several intangibles were rated even higher. Eighty-one percent associated higher education with a personal sense of accomplishment and 78 percent believed education would help them better develop their talents or pursue their interests."

What is the greatest barrier to pursuing higher education? Time management. More than 73 percent of those surveyed rated time management as an issue of concern. The need for flexibility in managing schedules may be the impetus for the increase in non-traditional enrollments. The National Center for Education Statistics says that online education is growing at a rate that is 10 time faster than that of traditional postsecondary options.

An additional concern is how to pay for college. While many colleges do a good job of helping high school students find resources for financial aid, the options for adults is not so obvious. Many do not realize that some of the same resources available to high school students are also available to them. Many working adults may also have access to tuition reimbursement through their jobs, an option few high school students have.

Eighty-four percent of higher education enrollments are non-traditional students, such as working adults and students enrolled in distance learning. Despite whatever barriers may have existed for these working adults, more than half surveyed said they wish they had done it sooner. The overwhelming majority believe the resulting benefits have made the struggle worthwhile.


This study was conducted for Capella University by the independent research firm TNS NFO and may be found at www.degreesofopportunity.org.