Research tackles barriers for adult Utahns pursuing college degree, career change

To better understand the gap between what prospective adult learners saw as barriers to education and what institutions saw the barriers to be, Western Governors University, in partnership with the Utah System of Higher Education, commissioned in-depth research from Utah-based Cicero Group.

“It is important to hear perspective straight from those who know it best,” WGU Director of Utah Operations Ismar Vallecillos said. “Education is a personal journey unique to every learner, and we can’t make a change or help without the data.”

The polling reinforced affordability and other time commitments as hurdles for re-entry adult learners. It ranked family and work responsibilities as the top reasons (47 percent) that prevent students from completing their degree or certificate. The survey participants were separated into segments based on age, education, minority, and socioeconomic status (SES) to understand those barriers better.

“As this research details, with each individual journey comes a unique set of barriers for adult learners when accessing and completing a higher education,” USHE Commissioner Dave R. Woolstenhulme said. “Education leaders need to further develop unique solutions to ensure each student has a path to success. The Utah Board of Higher Education has committed in its strategic plan to address these barriers across public colleges over the coming years and looks forward to working with WGU to be a part of the solution.”

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