Survey: Career Relevance Boosts Positive Perceptions of Higher Education

By Allie Bidwell, NASFAA Senior Reporter

People are significantly more likely to value the cost and quality of their college education if they feel their coursework during college was relevant to their career and lives, according to a new survey from Gallup and Strada Education Network.

The first in a three-part series, the survey gives a broad overview of how relevance can influence feelings toward the value of postsecondary education. The second survey will look into how educational relevance can tie in to fields of study, occupations, and more. The third survey will identify ways to provide more relevant education to students.

The survey released Wednesday was based on a nationally representative sample of more than 78,000 adults who are currently employed and have taken at least some college courses. Overall, the survey found that individuals are 63 percentage points more likely (14 percent compared with 77 percent) to strongly agree their education was worth the cost if they also strongly agreed their courses were relevant to their careers and lives. Likewise, those same individuals are 50 percentage points more likely (27 percent compared with 77 percent) to strongly agree they received a high-quality education.

"Importantly, relevance scores have an impact beyond purely educational outcomes — they are related to an individual’s overall sense of well-being," the survey said.

Increases in reported educational relevance were tied to increases in self-reported well-being, the survey said.

"These implications for the importance of relevance are powerful as they demonstrate another dimension of value that higher education provides to individuals, communities and our nation," the survey said. "This is vital during a time when many in higher education are challenged to demonstrate their value in ways that resonate with all stakeholders."

The second part of the survey is scheduled to be released in early May.


Publication Date: 4/5/2018

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