A new report commissioned by Capella University offers a ringing endorsement of the perceived value of a higher education and shows higher education to be a growth industry -- provided that a number of barriers to the participation of adult students are removed. The report is linked and excerpted below.
Degrees of Opportunity is a 2006 national study of the attitudes of adult Americans (age 25 to 60) toward continuing their education. More than half of the survey respondents indicated they would like to pursue additional education — the equivalent of more than 70 million Americans. The study also reveals the reasons millions of adult Americans are returning to school, as well as the barriers that are preventing others from pursuing their educational goals. Even in a time of wide public concern about the rising costs of higher education, the study found that American adults overwhelmingly believe that advanced learning is an investment that pays. Nine out of 10 (89%) said that the benefits of higher education are equal to or greater than the time, money, and energy invested. Despite the value adults placed on higher education, only a third of those who said they wanted more education said they were likely to pursue it. Time management and financial issues were the greatest barriers. Even though these barriers have kept some adults from returning to school, more than half of those who did go back to school said they wish they'd done it sooner — and virtually no students said they wished they'd waited longer.