Poll reveals emerging adults’ views on education

Results reveal many adults in their 20s believe education is critical to success and stability

education-surveyEighty-six percent of adults in a recent survey said they believe it is more important than ever to get education or training past high school in order to find a good job in today’s economy.

The Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults: Work, Education and Identity provides research on the views of 1,000 21- to 29-year-olds, revealing their perspectives on higher education and employment.

These millennials were surveyed on such topics as career fields, ideal jobs and realities, education, at-work social media habits, work-life balance and more.

“Almost all emerging adults now realize how important it is in the modern economy to get a college education or some other training after high school,” says Clark University Research Professor of Psychology and Poll Director Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D., who coined the term “emerging adulthood”— the phase of the life between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood. “They realize higher education is essential to finding a good job and making a good living, and they also hope it will be fun. If they don’t get that extra education, they regret it.”

For instance, the new Clark Poll found that only 17 percent of respondents with less than a high school education are employed full time, compared to 36 percent for those with higher education. Also, 71 percent agreed with the statement “I wish I had obtained more education than I have now.”

This latest Clark Poll offers insights into four main topics:

Emerging adults’ reflections on how education impacts their lives as they transition into the workplace
• Emerging adults’ reflections on how education impacts their lives as they transition into the workplace
• How emerging adults form their identity and seek identity-based work that makes the best of their talents and interests
• Insight into the stereotypes associated with emerging adults
• Current work life and how emerging adults envision their future

The study shows that 63 percent of Emerging Adults (ages 21-29) have student loan debt, in fact nearly 1 in 10 have more than $50,000 in debt. Despite that, 72 percent believe that their educational experience was worthwhile.

Some highlights from the study:

• Nearly 9 in 10 say a college education should be available to anyone regardless of his or her ability to pay
• Nearly three-quarters believe it is possible to gain as much value from an online education as from a traditional college/university
• 70 percent expect to go back for more education or training at some point during their 30s and 40s
• 59 percentsay they have not been able to find enough financial support to get the education they need
For more about the Clark Polls and to access the full reports, visit

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione