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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. With equitable student success at the forefront, college and university leaders are pursuing the solutions for a future where all students realize the benefits of their investment in postsecondary education — employment, economic, social, and otherwise.
While not a new phenomenon, the years of the COVID-19 pandemic have been marked by further erosion of public confidence in the value of higher education. This lack of confidence among prospective and current students revolves around return on investment and is driven by questions about the connection between education and a good job. In contrast, the pandemic and resulting economic crisis made clear the value of a degree or credential after high school. According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, workers without a degree were more likely than their peers with a degree to become unemployed during the pandemic. These data become even more stark when viewed with an equity lens, as the 2020 and 2021 unemployment rate for African-American and Hispanic workers without degrees was far higher than their white counterparts.
As the nation responds to the pandemic and the economic upheaval, higher education and policy leaders have the opportunity to simultaneously address eroding public confidence in the value of postsecondary education and training to better meet workforce needs by focusing on postgraduation outcomes to drive new thinking, solutions, strategies, and policies that will better connect education and work.
According to data from Strada’s Student Viewpoint Survey and the 2021 Strada Outcomes Survey, students are nearly five times more likely to say their education is worth the cost when they have excellent support to connect their education to their future career.1“Public Viewpoint: COVID-19 and the Value of College,” Strada Education Network, October 27, 2020, https://cci.stradaeducation.org/pv-release-october-27-2020/. In addition, graduates who had strong career-related experiences, such as internships, project-based learning, and career and job placement, reported higher postcompletion earnings and were much more likely to say their education was worth the cost and that it helped them achieve their goals.2“Student Outcomes Beyond Completion: National Findings from the 2021 Strada Outcomes Survey,” Strada Education Network, October 27, 2021, https://cci.stradaeducation.org/pv-release-oct-27-2021/.
Put simply, when degree holders look back and report valuable experiences connecting their education-to-career preparation and the development of skills valued in the labor market, they are more satisfied with the value of their education and their post-graduation outcomes are markedly better.
In light of these national trends and the desire to support student success through and beyond completion of degrees and credentials after high school, Strada launched the Beyond Completion Challenge — a $10 million national competitive grant process to incentivize and support innovation aimed at improving equitable outcomes for students. Strada invited institutions within the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity — a group of 36 universities and systems serving 2.4 million students that formed amid the pandemic to reimagine a higher education system — to submit proposals. Through the process of reviewing grant proposals and engaging with many higher education leaders from across the country, we’ve observed trends and initial insights into how leaders and institutions are adapting and innovating to advance more equitable postgraduation outcomes for the students they serve. We are delighted to highlight the work of our campus-based colleagues in hopes that we can inform, inspire, and support the many leaders working to change students’ lives and trajectories. We started this in today’s Public Viewpoint webinar and will continue to share insights throughout both phase one and phase two of the Beyond Completion Challenge.
Among students who have work-based learning experiences, those with paid internships stand out for their increased earning power, confidence in themselves, and recognition of the value of their education.
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.
The baccalaureate degree remains the surest path to economic mobility, employment stability, and a host of associated social benefits.
The declines in postsecondary education enrollment made headlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but what does that mean for the students behind those statistics?
Nondegree credentials have been growing rapidly for decades. Questions about their quality and value, however, remain.
Recent high school graduates share why their education plans were disrupted, and what types of support could bring them back.
Will Pandemic-Disrupted Learners Return to School?
Over the past 15 years, the number of student loan recipients has increased by 51 percent and the debt associated with those loans has more than doubled.
In the recovering economy, employers will play a central role as Americans look to reskill, upskill, and compete in the workforce. But what do people want and expect from employers’ hiring, advancement, and training practices?
In the recovering economy, employers will play a central role as Americans look to reskill, upskill, and compete in the workforce. But what do people want and expect from employers’ hiring, advancement, and training practices? In this research we explore the public’s perceptions on skills-based hiring, preferences for employer-provided education and training benefits, and beliefs about who should fund education and training.
Looking forward as a year of unprecedented challenges comes to a close, critical questions remain for educational institutions, learners, employers, and workers. Are the individuals interested in education going to enroll? In the new economy that emerges from the old, will skills translate into employment?
Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans feel stuck at work and unconvinced a good job or opportunities to advance are within their reach.
Over the past five years, after hearing from more than 350,000 Americans through our Strada-Gallup research, we know that beliefs about the value of education and training after high school are closely tied to connections to work. In this unusual semester, what is happening to these connections, and how are these changes shaping opinions about value?
How is COVID-19 affecting college students currently enrolled at American four-year institutions? Nearly two million
(13 percent) feel they will have to push back their graduation date, and another two million-plus (15 percent) are unsure
whether they will need to delay, bringing the ratio of students who may delay graduation to more than 1 in 4. Current
students also say their emotional well-being is their biggest challenge this fall, and online learning has been a struggle.
In fact, nearly 1 in 3 report online instruction has made learning “much worse.”
Millions of Americans are aspiring adult learners — individuals without college degrees who are seriously considering enrolling in additional education.
The portion of Americans who say they plan to enroll in an education program in the next six months has hovered near 20 percent since May, and throughout those months they also have expressed a consistent preference for nondegree programs, skills training, and online options.
Five months into the pandemic, Americans are now three times more likely than they were in April to believe COVID-19’s impact will last more than a year.
The COVID-19 crisis continues to touch nearly every aspect of American life, but the latest Strada Public Viewpoint research shows Americans’ interest in online learning will endure beyond the pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis continues to touch nearly every aspect of American life, but the latest Strada Public Viewpoint research shows Americans’ interest in online learning would be significant with or without the effect of the pandemic.
As Americans consider how COVID-19 has disrupted their work, education, and daily lives, many are looking ahead to how education and training might shape their futures.
COVID-19 is taking the lives of Americans and disrupting the fabric of work, education, and daily living for the entire nation, but the impact is disproportionately affecting people of color.
After weeks of impact to Americans’ emotional and economic well-being because of COVID-19, many are beginning to consider what will come next in their lives.
More than 33 million workers have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 crisis began, and the unemployment rate has climbed to 14.7 percent. We also know tens of millions more have kept their jobs or small businesses but have had hours, wages, and income reduced.
The COVID-19 crisis has left millions of Americans without work. As workers struggle to adapt, millions will be looking to upskill, change jobs — or even change careers.
When faced with an economic crisis, Americans historically have turned to education as a way to meet the challenge and prepare for the future. But COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and work in unprecedented ways. Will we react differently this time?
The economic impact of COVID-19 is widespread, but the ramifications are felt disproportionately among people of color.
Two-thirds of Americans remain concerned they may lose their jobs. About half are worried COVID-19 will have a negative impact on their finances.
While 83 percent of Americans believe the coronavirus is a real threat, at this point in the pandemic their most widespread worries are about finances and jobs over their personal health.
More than half of Americans report feeling these emotions in the first week of a new Strada Education Network survey, which will track how COVID-19 impacts Americans’ lives, their work, and their needs for education and training.