[Adult + Higher Education] The Latest Statistics

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 -- Sarah Cornelius

For adult learners, the decision to go back to school is never easy. With careers that may already be in motion, obligations to children and family, and the simple intimidation factor of having been away from the classroom for years or more, there are plenty of pros and cons to consider. But, you don’t need to dive deep into the statistics for the benefits to become clear—continuing education, whether it’s achieving a high-school equivalency credential, earning a skill-based certificate, or completing a degree, produce career (and paycheck!) dividends quickly.

So, what does the adult and higher education landscape looks like? And just what kind of payoff can prospective learners expect from returning to the classroom? We’ve put together some of the latest research and numbers to give adult learners and educators a snapshot.

  • More than 1,200,000 students drop out of high school in the United States every year.1
  • On average, a high-school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high-school graduate in lifetime wages. They’ll earn close to $1,000,000 less than a college grad.1
  • As of 2015, the unemployment rate among adults without a high-school credential was 8.0%. That’s 3.7% higher than the national average.3
  • By 2020, it’s forecasted that only 12% of jobs will not require a high school credential. 65% will require at least some post-secondary training.4
  • Poverty rates among adults without a high school credential are 2x higher than among adults with a diploma.5
  • The benefits of pursuing education extend beyond the learner – a mother’s education level is the most significant factor in determining her children’s academic success.5
  • Low-skilled adults are 4x more likely to report poor health, and have higher rates of chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes.5
  • As of 2012, there were nearly 1,700,000 adult learners enrolled in state-administered adult basic education, secondary education, and English as a second language programs.2
  • As of 2012, at all public 2- and 4-year post-secondary institutions, 75.6% of students were enrolled in at least one distance learning (online) course.6

Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s online programs, including Career and Technical Education courses, diagnostic assessments, and basic skills development, could fit in to your adult education program? Check out our Adult + HigherEd Solutions!



1. https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-high-school-dropout-rates

2. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_507.20.asp

3. http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

4. https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Recovery2020.ES_.Web_.pdf

5. http://www.worlded.org/Managed/docs/Adult%20Ed%20Facts_Mar2014.pdf

6. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014023.pdf