In a collaborative study of more than 40,000 Americans who started attending college, but did not finish with a degree, this report from Strada Education Network, Lumina Foundation and Gallup Research provides insights into the reasons they stopped out of college, and what could help them return.
The most common reason cited for stopping out was difficulty balancing school and work at the same time.
The factors that would have the most impact on getting this population to re-enroll include affordability, schedule flexibility and a guaranteed employment outcome connected to further education.
Better experiences with higher-quality academic and career advising are linked with completion. Students need to see how their education connects to a purpose.
Younger people, people of color and those who are working in certain occupations, such as food preparation, are more likely to say they will enroll in additional courses or training.
Employers are identified as the most likely pathway for individuals across all demographic breakdowns of those with some college, no degree to enroll in additional courses or training. Strategies to meet educational attainment goals will be more effective as they integrate employers.
More than 31 million students over the last 20 years have enrolled in college but left without receiving a degree or certificate.
Many states have made a priority of drawing this “some-college, no-degree” group back to school in their plans for boosting the educational attainment of their population. A number of state policies focus on re-enrolling adults with some college, no degree, but these policies are often broadly stated and could improve their impact with additional understanding of this population. There is a wide range of experience in terms of when the population stopped out, where they had previously been enrolled, and their current income and employment status. Understanding why people stopped out is key both to re-enrolling as well as increasing retention and preventing future stop-outs.
Strada Education Network, Lumina Foundation and Gallup collaborated on this report as part of a larger series of reports on adults without degrees. It provides firsthand, subjective perspectives of more than 40,000 individuals who stopped out of college before completing their degree. It is informed by data and insights from the Strada-Gallup Education Survey, an unprecedented telephone survey of more than 340,000 U.S. adults ages 18–65 that explores their educational experiences and attitudes.
Based on their responses, the report ultimately concludes that to be most effective in meeting the interests and circumstances of individuals who have attended college but did not graduate, state policymakers and institutions of higher education must include employers in solutions, reducing friction between learning and earning. Learner confidence in the connection between pursuing education and realizing a desired work outcome is also a vital factor in meeting the aspirations of these individuals.
When it comes to education after high school, Americans know what they value and why. At Strada Education Network, we are listening to what they have to say and leveraging their insights about experiences and outcomes to forge more purposeful pathways between education and careers.
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials.
Gallup strategically partners with institutions to conduct custom research and implement best practices that create environments in which students and employees thrive.
The list of benefits associated with earning a college degree is extensive and oft-repeated. It includes higher average lifetime earnings, employment security, greater self-esteem, and better health, among many others.
Amid all of this disruption, the number of U.S. workers leaving or changing their jobs sharply increased. Known variously as the Great Resignation, Reshuffle, or Realignment, the trend has been cast in the cultural imagination as a collective desire on the part of the American workforce for more rewarding or meaningful work.
Over the past 80 years, our nation has made great strides in improving access to college, and then ensuring that many more students could complete a college degree.
Spring 2022 enrollment numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse reveal a fifth straight semester of enrollment declines, with more than 1 million fewer students enrolled compared to spring 2020
Higher education’s measurement of student success is in the midst of an evolution. For nearly five decades, success efforts focused on access, then two decades with completion as the horizon for success, and now the focus is extending to student outcomes beyond completion.
Applied connections between education and work are increasingly a part of undergraduate education in the United States.
Two centuries after the first historically Black colleges and universities were founded, the 101 accredited HBCUs in operation today continue to deliver on their legacy of expanding educational opportunity for Black students that leads to successful and fulfilling lives.
As a field, higher education has experienced a continuing evolution in how to measure success. For nearly five decades success efforts were focused on access, followed by the past decade and a half pursuing completion, and the field now has a growing focus on the value of a degree and student outcomes beyond completion.
Strada’s prior research on undergraduate perceptions of the value of their education demonstrates that students value their education most when they receive support to connect their education and career interests.
In the wake of historic pandemic-related enrollment declines, postsecondary institutions have responded by developing and expanding innovative approaches to engaging learners.
The baccalaureate degree remains the surest path to economic mobility, employment stability, and a host of associated social benefits.
Steep declines in undergraduate enrollment during 2020 and 2021 threaten to widen existing equity gaps in college completion and career opportunities.
Nondegree credentials have been growing rapidly for decades. During the COVID-19 economic crisis, interest in nondegree credentials and skills training options was especially high. Questions about their quality and value, however, remain.
The high school classes of 2020 and 2021 have endured massive disruption to their education.
From its onset in early 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended life across the world, leading to uncertainty around health, work, finances, education, and a host of other issues.
The pandemic has led to a national crisis of widespread disruption to both work and education for millions of adults in the U.S., especially those from historically marginalized groups.
We asked alumni nationwide who had borrowed money to go to school if their loans were worth it. Strada Education Network and Gallup surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 6,000 student loan holders.
Our mission is to improve lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment.
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