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New Report: American Adults Cite Work-Related Issues
as Top Reason for Stopping Out of College
Telephone interviews with 42,190 American adults who have attended college without completing a degree reveal that competing demands of work, time and money are the greatest barriers for returning to school, and employers are viewed as the most probable path back
INDIANAPOLIS – A new report
released today by Lumina Foundation, Strada Education Network, and Gallup finds that American adults without college degrees were most likely to withdraw from school because of their challenges in balancing the demands of school, employment and other responsibilities. These same barriers persist as the impediments to returning to school. Importantly, only 19% of these adults report they are no longer interested or don’t need to complete their education.
In the last two decades, more than 31 million individuals have left college without receiving a degree or certificate. Three-quarters of the adults ages 25-64 without a degree are in the workforce (76%) and those who have stopped out of college cite work-related issues (17%) even more than financial pressures (12%) and life events/personal problems (11%) as their chief reason. Even while moving ahead in their lives without completing a degree, the vast majority remain interested and motivated to obtain additional education.
Adults with some college but no degree who are considering courses or training say they are most likely to enroll in additional education through their employers. To that end, employer-supported education opportunities are positioned to address all three of the primary barriers to returning to school.
“As policymakers, education and business leaders look to re-engage individuals who have not completed their degree, it’s important to remember that they didn’t have the support needed to manage school alongside the realities of life,” said David Clayton, Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights at Strada Education Network. “In our previous research, we found that adults with some college but no degree are no more likely than those who never went to college at all to say that they need additional education. In this new analysis, consumers are telling us that in order to make the investment of time and money needed to return to college, they need learning experiences that are flexible, affordable, and clearly linked to career outcomes.”
Other key findings include:
- Those who stopped out of college report experiencing significantly lower quality career and academic advising compared to their peers who graduated, with more than half (51%) who stopped out of a two-year institution rating the quality of academic advising as poor or fair, and 55% similarly rating the quality of career advising.
- Stop-outs ages 25-34 are more likely to say they will re-enroll and have a stronger preference for community colleges than older adults.
- There is wide variety in the likelihood to enroll in community colleges for additional education across industries, with foodservice workers leading the way at 21%, compared to peers in nine other industries.
“We know the barriers and balancing work, family, and education disproportionately affect people who are Black, Hispanic, and Native American,” said Courtney Brown, Lumina’s vice president of strategic impact. “To bring back people who left college without degrees, policymakers, colleges, and universities must be more responsive to these individuals’ needs and circumstances.”
ABOUT STRADA EDUCATION NETWORK
Strada Education Network is a national social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. The Network encourages partners across education, nonprofits, business and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, we address critical college to career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates. Learn more at StradaEducation.org.
ABOUT LUMINA FOUNDATION
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. The foundation envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Lumina’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy. Learn more at LuminaFoundation.org.