New insights from the Strada-Gallup Education Survey examine the main motivations driving students’ decisions to pursue postsecondary education. 86,000 U.S. adults with experiences at more than 3,000 institutions were asked to share in their own words the main reason they chose their postsecondary path and school.
Work outcomes are the main reason most people choose higher education, more than double the percentage representing the next most prevalent motivation.
Work outcomes are the primary motivation across all higher education pathways, not just four-year colleges and universities.
Work motivations are strikingly similar across demographic subgroups.
Those who start a higher education pathway and fail to complete it are more likely than those who complete theirs to report general aspirations for learning and knowledge as their top motivation.
While the choice to pursue higher education is largely driven by career aspirations, institution choice is primarily driven by constraints.
As we think about creating a more skilled, technical workforce and targeting those with some college and no degree to retool for the future of our information economy, it likely will not be enough to simply invite these learners back into an educational pathway. The pathway will need to be the right one–one with enough clarity, purpose and relevance to the prospective students’ working lives.
Results confirm that work outcomes are the main reason most people choose higher education, with 58% reporting job and career outcomes as their primary motivation. This is true across all higher education pathways and demographic subgroups. Work outcomes are also more than double the next most prevalent reason with 23% reporting a general motivation to learn more and gain knowledge without linking it to work or career aspirations.
Perhaps most significant, the survey revealed that those who start an educational path and fail to complete it are more likely than those who completed to report general aspirations for learning and knowledge as their top motivation. Read this report to learn how helping students clarify a work-related purpose for pursuing a postsecondary pathway may boost persistence and completion, and ensure they realize their main motivation for attending – to find a job and launch their career.
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.
Gallup strategically partners with institutions to conduct custom research and implement best practices that create environments in which students and employees thrive.
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
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.
Will Pandemic-Disrupted Learners Return to School?
How individuals who attend and don’t graduate feel about education
How learners rate the value of their education pathways
The Benefits and Opportunities of Certificates and Certifications
What Adults Without Degrees Say About Pursuing Additional Education and Training
Relevance and the Value of Higher Education
When do Adults without Degrees Benefit from Earning Certificates and Certifications?
Employer survey on finding the best talent for the job
2018 Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey
State-by-State Demand for Education After High School
Strada and Gallup Examine Learners’ Top Motives for Choosing Their Postsecondary Path
2017 College Student Survey
Where Students Get Valued Advice on What to Study in College
US Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions