Free spirits: 1 in 3 say they had no life plan after graduating

NEW YORK — A third of Americans had no life plan after completing school – whether it was high school or college (34%), according to a new poll.

The survey of 2,000 adults looked into people’s sentiments surrounding life entering adulthood and found that similarly, 41 percent didn’t have a job lined up after finishing school. Nearly a fifth of respondents who attended college admitted they didn’t have a plan for after senior year (17%).

The same percentage said that after completing their last degree (whether high school or college), they were pessimistic about their future before stepping into the real world.

Back to school?

Data from a survey conducted by OnePoll for Colorado State University Global for National Higher Education Day also revealed that 62 percent would be interested in attending college at this point in their life, including 787 respondents who already have a degree. The same percentage expressed interest in pursuing a degree or certificate fully online so they can learn from home (62%), with two in three parents agreeing that this would be something they’re open to.

When it comes to how higher education can benefit students in the real world, seven in 10 people agree that colleges have a responsibility to prepare students for challenges they’ll face in the real world (71%).

Three-quarters of those who attended or would be interested in attending college said when making the decision to apply to a school, it’s important to have a dedicated academic advisor to help tackle some of these challenges.

Having a hands-on advisor proves to be helpful, as two-thirds of those who have attended college believe their advisor was helpful in guiding their academic journey during college.

These respondents were nearly six times more likely to say their college did a good job of preparing them for challenges in the real world (89% vs. 15%).

Life After Graduation

2 in 3 think they’re in the wrong career!

When asked how their college experience could have been better, many cited learning things that would help them in their everyday lives (47%) or a curriculum-based experience in their field of work (44%) as ways their schooling could have better prepared them.

Similarly, 39 percent would have also benefited from better academic advisory, and 37 percent think they would have done better if they knew what they wanted to study earlier. Nearly a quarter of respondents who are currently employed and went to college note that their current job is not within their field of study (22%).

Two in three add the money they spent on their annual college tuition is higher than what they’re currently earning annually (68%).

This may be why 69 percent of respondents who attended college also say they’d be interested in switching jobs/careers to a field unrelated to the one they originally wanted to pursue.

“For those looking to make a career switch, this is the perfect time to tackle a degree or certification in a new field you are passionate about to improve your chances of finding your dream career path,” says Pamela Toney, president at CSU Global, in a statement. “For many busy adults who are also working a full-time job and raising a family, considering alternative education options outside of a traditional brick-and-mortar campus, such as an online program, can help them attain their degree while also balancing life’s responsibilities.”

A break after college may be the perfect plan

Those who took a break between college and work took an average of four months in between, but 37 percent took longer than this. A whopping 86 percent of these respondents believe this break was helpful.

It’s no surprise, then, that half of college attendees say if they could go back, they would take a break between college and work (49%).

“Taking a break does not mean that has to be the end of the line for your education,” Toney says. “It’s never too late to go back and get your degree or earn a certificate to hone a new skill in your field. In today’s modern world, going back to school is possible for learners of all ages.”

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