Report: Half of Survey Respondents Would Change Their Education Level, Major, or Institution If They Could

By Jill Desjean, Policy & Federal Relations Staff 

Strada Education Group, in a partnership with Gallup, today released the first in a series of reports resulting from the Education Consumer Pulse, a three-year study examining postsecondary education from the consumer perspective. The report, “On Second Thought:  U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions,” reveals data obtained from a survey of nearly 90,000 participants who enrolled in or completed postsecondary studies.  

The survey sought information on respondents' perceptions of the quality of the education they received as well as whether they had regrets about their past postsecondary educational decisions, asking participants, “If you had to do it all over again, would you still… pursue the same level of education? pursue the same area of study? … attend the same institution?”

Key findings from the study reveal that 51 percent of Americans indicated they would change their education level, major, or institution if they could do it all again. That figure was stable among respondents with $25,000 or less in student loan debt, but climbed as debt levels grew, with 63 percent of those with $75,000 or more in student loans indicating they would change at least one educational decision given a second chance.

While parental education level did not correlate to regrets about educational decisions, survey respondents’ income levels did, with higher income earners unsurprisingly expressing greater degrees of satisfaction with educational decisions than those at lower income levels. Even among those earning $250,000 annually though, 43 percent indicated that they would change at least one thing about their postsecondary education decisions. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors across education levels demonstrated the least interest in changing prior educational decisions.  

Survey data also indicated a higher level of satisfaction with educational decisions for respondents who graduated at age 30 or above than for those who completed postsecondary study prior to age 30. Finally, more than four out of five respondents who completed a degree and 70 percent of noncompleters indicated some level of agreement that they received a high-quality education.


Publication Date: 6/1/2017

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