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Statewide Survey on Perceptions of Postsecondary Education

In May of 2018, in coordination with Oxbow Creative, Advance Vermont commissioned research conducted by the Center for Research and Public Policy (CRPP). CRPP produced an online survey to gain insight into perceptions and opinions about postsecondary education throughout the state of Vermont. The 400 survey respondents were Vermonters who either do not have a degree or credential, or are parents/guardians (regardless of their own level of educational attainment). What follows are the highlights of CRPP’s findings. 

Value

Postsecondary education is viewed as valuable by a clear majority, however, the value for cost is perceived poorly.

Most respondents place a high value on attaining a postsecondary credential after high school.

  • 88.3% of respondents consider a college degree to be valuable or very valueable
  • 87.3% of respondents consider a credential to be valuable or very valuable
  • Older respondents place a higher value on a college degree than younger respondents

 

Only one third of respondents believe that college and credential programs in their area provide a good value for cost.

  • 34.3% of respondents say that college programs do a good job in terms of value for cost
  • 30.0% think the same of college programs

Postsecondary education is widely seen as unaffordable.

  • 26.4% of respondents say that college programs in their area are affordable. 35.0% report the same of credential programs in their area

 

Awareness

Respondents are more aware of degree opportunities than credential opportunities

Fewer respondents are aware of credential programs than degree programs.

  • 86.6% of respondents report being aware of college degree programs in their geogrpahical area
  • 69.3% of respondents report being aware of credential programs in their area

Women are nearly 10 percent less likely to be aware of credential programs than men.

  • 64.7% of women are aware of credential programs
  • 73.1% of men are aware of credential programs

Unemployed respondents report being less aware of educational opportunities.

Barriers

Primary barriers to securing a college degree or credential are related to affordability.

The five most identified barriers include:

  • 62.0% concerned about lack of financial aid availability
  • 57.0% concerned about paying back loans
  • 56.8% concerned about financial aid eligibility
  • 49.5% concerned about limited time due to work
  • 38.3% concerned about limited time due to family
  • 31.5% concerned about losing work income to take classes

Adult Interest

Most respondents without a degree or credential express interest in pursuing one.

  • 63.1% of respondents wtihout a postsecondary credential are very or somewhat interested in pursuing one.

Respondents cite similar barriers as above.

Unemployed respondents report having less interest in starting or finishing a college degree compared to employed respondents.

  • 43.9% of unemployed respondents report being somewhat or very interested in starting or finishing a college degree
  • 68.9% of employed respondents report being somewhat or very interested in starting or finishing a college degree

 

Employer Support

Most respondents would take advantage of education or career advancement opportunities through their employers. Less than half of respondents report their employers offer such programs.

Respondents would be willing to participate in opportunities if they were provided.

  • 87.8% of employed respondents are willing or very willing to take advantage of employer-offered education or career advancement programs.

Employed respondents with no degree report less access to career and educational advancement through their employers compared to those with degrees.

  • 41.0% of respondents report their employer does not offer tuition reimbursement, employer-paid training, or on-site training
  • 26.7% of respondents’ employers offer career guidance

 

Employee respondents who earn less than $25,000/year report having significantly less access to career and educational advancement opportunities, despite reporting comparable willingness to take advantage of such opportunities if provided.

Motivators

Respondents recognize the benefits of attaining higher education, specifically as they relate to financial stability and higher quality of life.

The five most identified primary reasons respondents would seek postsecondary education, or advise those in their care to seek education and training after high school, include:

  • 79.0% to make more money
  • 65.3% to have more jobs to choose from
  • 55.3% to gain more knowledge and learning
  • 55.0% to increase quality of life
  • 52.5% to better provide for family