Acknowledging Higher Education in America On June 6

Acknowledging Higher Education in America On June 6
Beth Dumbauld

Join StraighterLine as we celebrate higher education in America this month by spotlighting National Higher Education Day on June 6. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you have some idea how vital a college degree can be to growing a successful career.

Below are three facts and figures from the American Council on Education that highlight just how important it is to earn your college degree.

  • The number of college degrees and certificates awarded increased by 53% during the decade between 2002 and 2012
  • 24% of graduates start their degree at one institution, but ultimately earn their degree from another
  • 15% of undergrad students are still working toward their college degree after attending classes for six years

This data underscores not only that the pursuit of higher education is on the rise, there is also an increasing demand to earn a college degree flexibly. Savvy students  today are shopping for the best opportunity to earn the degree that will serve them best, while also considering cost and method of course delivery.

Higher Education in America Is Worth the Investment

Even though it's an accepted fact that a person with a college degree earns more over the span of their career, it’s wise to ask if higher education in America is worth the investment of time and money today. The Association of American Colleges and Universities reports:

  • Generation Z (the generation after Millennials) believes that career success comes easier with a college degree (84%) and most Americans (71%) see higher education as “a social good or both a social good and a private benefit.” However, 46% don’t think most college students complete the requirements for a degree—meaning they don’t finish their degree without interruption.
  • A majority still think two and four-year public higher education institutions are worth the money a student spends to earn her degree (no matter the age of the student).

This data suggests nearly 50% of students who start college do not finish without experiencing a ‘hard stop’ for various reasons including finances, family, and being unsure of a career path. This also means there’s a large population of Americans over the age of 30 who have some college credit and could still benefit from completing their degree.

Additional data from Brookings, a public policy organization, supports the importance of degree completion to adults. In 2015, four-year public and private non-profit colleges and universities enrolled approximately 9.7 million students 30 years and older, while two-year public higher education institutions reported approximately 6.2 million older students attending classes. Lagging far behind are the for-profit colleges –with a little over one million older college attendees, still a staggering number.

Who are the adults returning to college? According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in a large part it is women who are re-enrolling at higher numbers than men. And what degrees do they pursue? Women primarily earned degrees in business, education, and liberal arts programs between 2015 and 2017, a trend that is predicted unlikely to change over the next few years.

Finally, consider the vast choice all students have when looking at higher education in America. A comparison by NCES of the number of colleges and universities between 1980 and 2016 shows an impressive rate of growth to better support the number of potential students. Two-year colleges increased in number from 1274 to 1579 and four-year colleges increased in number from 1957 to 3004. This gives students great options, especially if they’re looking to complete their degree online, where the location of the campus is less important.

Higher education in America today provides great choices and opportunities for students of any age, especially those who may have started but not completed their degree. The benefits of earning a college degree are clear, as graduates earn more, have better financial security and increased career opportunities.

Given this choice and opportunity, if you’re looking to return to school and increase your earning potential, there is no better time than now. And you can start with a Free Trial from StraighterLine. Sign up today!

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