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.
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