Adult Viewpoints 2017: Online Learning & the Back-to-School Decision

As higher education leaders working with adult students, we've long recognized that our student population has a unique set of needs and challenges that sets them apart from what's long been referred to as "traditional" college students - those being 17-22 year olds enrolled full-time at on-campus institutions. However, this so-called "traditional" student is no longer the norm in American higher education: in the last decade, the post-traditional student population - that is, adult learners, many of whom are in the workforce - has grown dramatically, and now makes up 60% of all undergraduate students. Despite these growing numbers, this population of adult students is consistently overlooked when it comes to defining quality, accessibility, and success in a higher education environment.

To better understand the unique needs and challenges of the adult learner, Champlain College Online commissioned a survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults without degrees on their perceptions of higher education and online learning. Our survey, Adult Viewpoints 2017: Online Learning & The Back-to-School Decision, uncovers attitudes American adults have towards the effectiveness of higher education as a whole, the motivators and barriers to going back to school, perceptions of online vs. face-to-face learning, and the role of higher education in the future workforce.

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Higher Education is the Key to Increased Career Prospects

70% of adults believe it's important to have a degree in order to find a job.

Cost is the Biggest Barrier to Going Back to School

70% of adults say they can't afford to pursue a baccalaureate degree.

Online Learning is Seen as High-Quality Overall

76% of those who have considered going back to school see online learning as "excellent" or "very good." 

Majority of Adults Want to Return to School

60% of adults have considered going back to school to complete a degree.

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60% of Adults Have Considered Returning to School, But Financial Barriers Loom Large

Face-to-face and online learning both ranked high for quality; online learning believed to be better for post-traditional learners. Read the press release >

The Balancing Act: Making the Back-to-School Decision

Survey reveals that while adults see the value of higher education, they face significant challenges in accessing degree programs that meet their needs. Check out the infographic >

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