Student prospects need link between education and careers

While 28 million Americans have canceled education plans due to coronavirus, others are considering enrolling soon, with nondegree programs getting the closest look
By: | April 30, 2020
Photo by Matt Ragland on UnsplashPhoto by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

An estimated 28 million American adults, 11% of those aged 18 and older, have canceled education plans—ranging from formal degree programs to personal development—due to the COVID-19 crisis. Of those still considering education or training in the next six months, 59% are interested in nondegree programs, including certificates, certifications and courses for reskilling, upskilling or personal interests. That’s all according to a new analysis from Strada Education Network, a national social impact organization dedicated to forging pathways between education and employment. The data is from Strada’s weekly, nationally representative survey of 1,000 Americans, tracking the impact of the global pandemic on their lives, work and education.

“In times of flux, Americans have frequently turned to education as a way to meet the challenges of a changing economy,” said Dave Clayton, Ph.D., senior vice president at the Strada Center for Consumer Insights. “While COVID-19 has created unprecedented change to our lives and work, we do not yet know the full implications for education. Thus far, the majority of Americans who are considering more education are telling us they will look for immediate opportunities to develop their skills.”

As for five-year education plans, about half of Americans surveyed intend to enroll in postsecondary education and training in the next five years, relatively consistent with previous findings from early 2019. The most significant change observed is that when Americans do plan to enroll in the next five years, there’s a marked increase in their likelihood to enroll in a trade school, community college or online-only college or university.

Enrollment data from administrators’ own institutions can be paired with these insights into Americans’ informal and formal education plans and then used as a signal, Clayton suggests.

“One thing that’s clear from our data—both now and in previous years—is the importance of helping prospective students understand the clear relevance and connection between education programs and career pathways,” he says. “Assurances that courses and training will count toward degree or certificate goals is also critical. With so many dynamics changing around them, education consumers seek confidence that investing themselves and their money in courses or training will work for them.”

View the full findings here.

Melissa Ezarik is senior managing editor of UB.