Survey: Adults Question the Value of Higher Ed, But Wish They’d Done More

A new survey from the University of Phoenix shows that only about a quarter of working adults today believe that a college education is good preparation for entering the job market. According to South Carolina's The Herald, almost an equal percentage believes that a college degree offers no benefits whatsoever when it comes to creating an effective workforce.

Of those who have at least an undergraduate degree, the level of satisfaction is higher – but not by much. Only about 35% of those who have graduated believe that all or most of what they've learned has prepared them for issues they might encounter in their jobs.

Ten percent believe the knowledge they gained in college had no impact at all. The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive, was conducted online and includes responses from over 1,600 employed US adults.

"The survey suggests the need for higher education to adapt to the needs of the market and prepare students for specific jobs and careers," said Dr. Sam Sanders, college chair for University of Phoenix School of Business and former human resources executive with more than 20 years of hiring experience. "There is significant progress being made in America to tie curriculum to careers earlier in a student's education, but there is still a lot of work to be done to prepare college graduates for specific careers and grow a more competitive workforce. University of Phoenix is working closely with employers to help bridge the gap between academic theory and practice and prepare workers to be more immediately effective in their workplaces."

The survey also provided insight into widespread dissatisfaction with higher education. Nearly three quarters of the respondents expressed at least some level of regret over the higher education choices they've made. Surprisingly, though the value of higher education was panned, the biggest regret appears to be not going far enough when it came to academics. Forty-eight percent said that they wished they'd gone further in their education careers. Fifty-eight percent of those without at least a bachelor's degree expressed regrets about not pursuing more education compared to 32% of those who completed college.

Other regrets include: not learning as much because they didn't apply themselves (21 percent), not focusing enough on academics (19 percent), selecting the wrong major (15 percent), not pursuing internships or relevant part-/full-time jobs while receiving their education (11 percent) and not applying the information learned to real-life scenarios (six percent).

The survey results also give a hint about where higher education is headed. Although only 8% of respondents reported currently taking courses online, more than 25% know someone who is. The percentage of those either enrolled in an online course or who know of someone who is enrolled is higher among younger respondents. Among participants between the ages of 18 and 34, 15% are taking advantage of online courses, while only 5% of those between the ages of 35 and 44 are doing likewise.

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