New Survey Findings on Going Back to School as an Adult

Sonya Krakoff

For many adults, the decision to go back to school can be difficult. Most adults do not fit the profile of a "typical" college student—they have many competing priorities, from full-time work to family commitments, and often feel that the traditional college experience doesn't meet their needs. Online learning is a natural fit for many adults going back to college, as it offers flexibility and access that many campus-based programs don't have, but this style of learning faces significant perception challenges in the eyes of many adults.

That's why we recently commissioned a survey of 1,000+ adults across the United States: we wanted to better understand their thoughts on online learning and higher education as a whole, and find out what they see as the biggest reasons to go back to college (and the biggest obstacles in their way). The surveyed revealed quite a bit about adults: overall, while they see the value of higher education, they face significant challenges in actually pursuing a degree.

Here's what we found:


Higher Education is Key to Career Prospects

70% of adults believe it's "very important" or "somewhat important" to hold a bachelor's degree to secure a job in the future.


Cost is the Primary Hurdle in the Decision to Go Back to School

75% of respondents said student loan debt was the main barrier to going back to school.


Increasing Earning Potential Is the Main Reason to Return

73% of respondents said the main reason they want to go back to school is to increase earning potential.


Online Learning Is Seen as High-Quality Overall, and as a Better Option for Adult Learners

76% of those who have considered going back to school see online learning as "excellent" or "very good." More respondents judge online learning (38%) to be better in meeting the needs of adult students than face-to-face learning (26%).

Overall, this shows that while many adults want to go back to school—and have a clear sense of the benefits that can come from doing so—the obstacles in their way are significant.

To learn more about the findings in this report, visit

About the Author

Sonya Krakoff

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Sonya Krakoff is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Champlain College Online, where she is the voice behind the CCO blog and helps tell the school's story across multiple digital platforms. Sonya has extensive experience in writing, content marketing, and editing for mission-driven businesses and non-profit organizations, and holds a bachelor's degree in English (with a focus on creative writing) from St. Lawrence University.