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ERIC Number: ED547419
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Nov
Pages: 58
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Is College Worth It for Me? How Adults without Degrees Think about Going (Back) to School
Hagelskamp, Carolin; Schleifer, David; DiStasi, Christopher
Public Agenda
This research report examines the expectations, attitudes and needs of adults who are thinking about earning postsecondary credentials after having spent some or in most cases many years in the workforce. Most of these prospective students hope a certificate or degree will advance their chances in the labor market, but they are greatly worried about the costs of college and their ability to balance school with the demands of work and family. They are particularly attracted to schools that offer practical programs and hands-on support from caring and knowledgeable teachers and advisers. This research also reveals that many adult prospective students do not consider important information about the quality of different colleges and programs in their decisions. Many existing supports for helping prospective students are not reaching these adults. The report thus concludes with concrete ideas and considerations for how leaders in higher education, government, and philanthropy can help adult prospective students make wise choices about their higher education. The main findings derived from this research: (1) Driving concerns: Can I afford it, and can I make it work in my busy life; (2) Top priorities include: High-quality teachers, applicable skills, affordable tuition; (3) Older and younger adult prospective students exhibit some different needs and concerns; (4) Most adults considering going to college expect to take remedial courses; (5) Most hope to take at least some classes online; (6) They learn about colleges from people they know, advertising, and the websites of specific schools. Few speak to college counselors or access online tools designed to compare schools; (7) Many do not think school performance metrics that experts place stock in--such as graduation rates and average student debt--are essential pieces of information to have before enrolling at a school; (8) Few adult prospective students distinguish between not-for-profit and for-profit colleges, but once they understand the distinction, they become more skeptical of for-profit schools; and (9) Many believe that more opportunities to meet and talk with college experts and other adult students, in person or online, could help adults like them make better decisions. This research demonstrates that much more can be done to help adult prospective students understand their options and figure out which kind of postsecondary education best fits their needs. The report concludes with ideas and considerations that emerge from this research for what leaders in education, policy, and philanthropy could do to help adult prospective students make wise decisions about their education. A bibliography is included.
Public Agenda. 6 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016. Tel: 212-686-6610; Fax: 212-889-3461; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Secondary Education; High Schools; Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Kresge Foundation
Authoring Institution: Public Agenda