Study Reveals Need for More Support, Flexibility from Institutions to Ensure Success of Adult Female Students

Research from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce shows that women with a college degree can earn up to 74 percent more income during their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. Currently, 76 million adult women living in the U.S. do not have a college degree.

However, a new study conducted by Research Now and published by The American Women’s College of Bay Path University reveals that many women struggle to balance their higher education goals with other life factors. The survey looked at responses from 2,000 women between the ages of 25 and 44. Of those surveyed, 82 percent said they did not complete college because of competing family, work, or financial responsibilities.

The study’s results indicate that many women are interested in pursuing a higher education and that they understand the importance of doing so. More than half of respondents reporting attempting to earn a degree, and of those, 94 percent said they would feel better about themselves if they had completed their educational program. Of the women who expressed a desire to return to college, 96 percent agreed that furthering their education would give them access to desired employment opportunities, while 95 percent said a bachelor’s degree would give them more control over their future.

However, the women also expressed a need for institutions of higher education to provide them with greater flexibility and supports as they work to balance their education with other life commitments. For example, 79 percent of respondents claimed that flexible learning hours would make returning to college easier, and 77 percent said that online learning would facilitate a potential transition back to school.

Carol A. Leary, PhD, president of Bay Path University, stated in a press release that “for adult women today to achieve their dream of a degree, colleges and universities need to reconsider their educational delivery models.” Bay Path is attempting to meet the needs of these students by providing accelerated online courses, assistance with career preparation, and an all-women’s community, among other supports.

The findings of the Research Now survey reinforce the significance of such interventions: 76 percent of respondents said that they would find it easier to return to college if they were surrounded by peers, and 70 percent said that going back to school would demonstrate the importance of education to their children.