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Who Are Higher Education's Adult Learners?

36 million Americans hold some postsecondary education and training but did not complete a degree or are no longer enrolled. The median age of these former students is 39.

Many adults who either did not attend or finish college or have low median earnings based on their job sector can benefit from additional education. Economic recovery on a state, regional, and national level can be powered by re-engaging adult learners to complete their college degrees in order to gain access to better jobs.

Research Key Findings
So who are these adult learners and how do we get them to re-engage?

To address this question, UPCEA and StraigherLine conducted a critical empirical research study profiling the disengaged learner to better understand their situations and motivations in relation to higher ed. The study focused on individuals who have college credits but are no longer attending to identify why they stopped out and what motivates them to re-engage.

  • 55% are millennials
  • 63% are women
  • 65% make < $50K per year
  • 51% work full time
Why do they disengage?

Financial reasons was the number one response.

Can we get them back?

Yes, 62% of respondents are motivated to re-enroll to achieve the personal goal of completing the degree they originally set out to obtain and 44% are motivated by career advancement.

View the study’s key findings.