What is Post Secondary degree?

Higher education important, but obstacles exist to re-enrollment

WASHINGTON D.C. - Americans widely agree that having a degree beyond high school is important. More than seven in 10 say it is very important to have a certificate or degree beyond high school, and another 25% say it is somewhat important.

These findings are from a Nov. 9-Dec. 4, 2012, study by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation with a random sample of U.S. adults. The survey finds that two in three Americans say higher education is very important to getting a good job and to improving earning potential. And seven in 10 say it is very important to a person's financial security in the future.

Finances play a role in importance of postsecondary education

Affordability Is Significant Barrier to Higher Education

The vast majority of Americans say higher education is not affordable for everyone who needs it. About one in four U.S. adults think it is affordable for all.

Americans also see cost as a major barrier for adults in the workforce who want to go back to school. Twenty-eight percent say cost is the biggest barrier to re-enrollment in school for adults who do not have a postsecondary credential or degree. This hurdle to re-enrollment is second only to the responsibility of caring for family, which 36% of U.S. adults say is the most significant roadblock. Another 15% say job responsibilities are the biggest barrier, and 4% blame a lack of information.

It may be that the cost of higher education and family responsibilities together create a compounded barrier for adults thinking about going back to school.

Despite these perceived barriers, 41% of those surveyed who do not yet have a college degree or credential indicate they have thought about going back to school to earn one. Twenty-one percent of those without a degree say they are very likely, and another 17% say they are somewhat likely to go back to school to earn one.

With many adults who lack a postsecondary degree or credential at least somewhat likely to go back to school to earn one, higher education institutions will likely need to remove barriers, such as high costs, in order to get these adults to enroll.

Americans Want More Flexibility in Higher Education

Americans express strong support for redesigning pathways to higher education attainment. When asked whether they think students should be able to receive college credit for knowledge and skills acquired outside the classroom, nearly nine in 10 (87%) say yes.


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