Jenzabar's 2021 Education and Employment Survey

Survey finds that U.S. adults feel underemployed and want more affordable, flexible education options.

Americans Feel Unsatisfied and Unfulfilled With Work


believe they are underemployed, underpaid, or not fulfilling their potential.


of U.S. adults want a new career.

fields of interest for U.S. adults include business; health and medicine; arts and entertainment; and science and technology.

Americans Are Not Content With Their Higher Ed Experience

More than a quarter of adults who are college graduates believe that traditional college did not prepare them for their current jobs or the jobs they want to have.


of respondents with college degrees believe their college education did not prepare them for their current jobs and the jobs they want to have.


of college graduates are still paying off student loan debts.


believe their college loan debt was not worth it relative to the job opportunities they were able to secure.

58% of those who did not complete college said they would have done so if it promised to prepare them with the knowledge and skills to pursue more lucrative careers.

Americans Want More Higher Education Options


believe that colleges and universities need to be more affordable and offer specific programs that help students secure well-paying jobs.


of respondents who identified as parents found the traditional 4-year in-person educational model an attractive option for their children.


of participants said that, were they to continue with their education, they’d prefer hybrid or online learning models.

U.S. Adults Want Training to Be Accessible

More than half of respondents would like to receive new training or education to pursue a lucrative career if that training/education is affordable, accessible, and easy to do on their own time.


would sign up for training and education to pursue a lucrative career if it were affordable, accessible, and easy to do on their own time.


believe that job opportunities and educational/training opportunities have been limited since the pandemic.


U.S. adults need to see a clearer alignment between their educations, educational training, and career objectives. They seek more affordable, more accessible ways to secure the well-paying jobs of the present and future.

COVID-19 has made clear the sorts of evolutions that need to take place in higher education. At a time when employers are struggling to fill open positions, many workers in the United States struggle to qualify for those positions. They feel the education system is failing them and doesn't provide them access to the quality jobs they need to improve their lives. Parents are wary of sending their high-school graduates to four-year institutions, and learners of all types are looking for more affordable, accessible, and flexible education options. 

To meet the growing skepticism and demands of these post-pandemic learners, colleges and universities need to reevaluate their current educational models. They need to adopt the sorts of technology that allow them to craft effective online and hybrid courses. They need to think of ways to better align their educational programs with the needs of today’s skills-driven workforce.

The higher-education system is broken, and it needs to be fixed to better work for the students it serves. Traditional four-year, in-person models are often expensive and sometimes do not offer the right blend of job training and life skills required to secure the millions of lucrative, available job opportunities in technical, healthcare, and other fields. In many cases, traditional higher education models don’t allow lower-income or working adults to get the training required for more lucrative career opportunities without being saddled with crushing debt. Those unwilling to take on life-altering debt are stuck because they never received the right pathways to the careers they desire.

These findings shine a clear light on the growing gap between what colleges and universities are offering and what today’s “new student” needs. Institutions interested in better serving their student populations need to seek a clear understanding of what their students need and evolve to meet that need head-on.