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Illustration: Ashley Siebels
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Survey: 60% of American adults have entertained the idea of heading back to school

A new survey from Champlain College Online found that 60% of American adults have entertained the idea of once again hitting the books to secure a bachelor’s degree, associate degree, or certificate.

Full Circle Research carried out the survey of 1,004 American adults from 23 to 55, who at the time of the research had earned either a high school degree or GED, an associate degree, or “some college but no degree,” but hadn’t earned a bachelor’s degree. More than 50% of respondents were employed at the time.

Here are some of the other data points that stood out.

Americans want to go back for these reasons

Among respondents who were working, 56% said one of their motives for choosing to head back to school was to transition into a new career. Forty-one percent think doing so is necessary to score a promotion, while 50% aren’t happy with the work they are doing, and think they need a degree for their desired career path (these numbers consist of people who either strongly agreed or simply agreed with those answers).

Just less than three-quarters of respondents (73%) want to return to academia to boost their “earning potential.”

While a whopping 75% of respondents said they don’t want to resume their studies because they don’t want to rack up student loan debt and 70% can’t afford the price tag, 35% said they don’t want to because they don’t truly believe it will help improve their careers, among other results.

Dr. Laurie Quinn, provost and senior vice president for academics at Champlain College, commented on the findings:

“Champlain College Online’s survey reveals that many adults would go back to school with the hope that higher education will unlock greater opportunities and gratifying careers for them, but barriers range from self-doubt to financial and physical realities. … More awareness and action can close this gap, so adults have access to the quality, affordable education they deserve.”

Here’s what Americans think the future of work looks like

While nearly a third of of respondents  (32.9%) deemed having a bachelor’s degree “very important” for getting jobs in the future, a similar percentage of people (36.6%) thought it was “somewhat important.” Just 7.1% consider having a bachelor’s completely unnecessary for this purpose.

Almost three-quarters of respondents (73.1%) believe “most” or”some” of all current workplace positions will still exist in 10 years, with 42.1% reporting that it’s “very likely” that their position will still be around in a decade and 26.6% saying it’s “somewhat likely.” Just 3% said there’s zero chance their job will be around by 2027.

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