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Survey Says: The Realities Facing Adults Returning to College (and how Business Are Adapting to Meet them)

If you were asked to name the number one barrier standing in the way of an adult returning to school to complete a higher education degree, which one would you name?

If you answered money, according to a new survey released by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, you’d be right.

The survey of more than 8,000 Middle Tennessee workers from 12 area employers provided great insight into the factors that can prevent adults from returning to higher education. Of those factors, tuition and fees were the most commonly cited barrier, with 81 percent of participants noting the impact they have on degree attainment.

In response to the survey’s findings, Tennessee businesses are already developing their tuition assistance benefits, adding new programs and revising existing ones to better meet employees’ needs. Many employees, The Tennessean notes, can’t afford to pay tuition fees up-front and wait for employer reimbursement, for example, an issue resolved when a business directly pays for expenses.

In addition to highlighting the importance of tuition assistance programs, survey participants stressed the need for guidance to assist degree completion. Through such advising programs, advisees gain assistance charting education completion pathways that help them reach career goals. Advising also helps adult learners balance work, life and career, instrumental for ensuring adult learner success.

While would-be adult learners face some unique challenges that might prevent receiving a degree or credential, the implementation of programs like Tennessee Promise and tuition assistance efforts undertaken by businesses are encouraging.     

To read the full article by the Tennessean, click here.


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