America’s Talent Search

Posted by Jack MacKenzie on July 13, 2020 at 2:26 PM

In Michigan, they refer to it as 60 by 30.

Ohio has established a 65 by 25 goal.

North Carolina has a 55 by 25 goal.

In Washington, it’s 70 by 2023.

Many states have stated goals for educational attainment among their adult population.

According to the Lumina Foundation, if any of those goals are to be met, it will be done by educating the people who are already adults and already in the workforce. Their research suggests if the states want to achieve their goals, fully 70% of all post-secondary credentials will need to go to adults.  These are the people who missed or bypassed college or advanced training their first time around.  Maybe they couldn’t afford it. Maybe they didn’t need it then.  They know they need it now. 

The demand for education is real and pervasive. Simply put, adults without a postsecondary credential or degree want the skills necessary for successful participation in the 21st Century economy.

 CollegeApp’s data, based on survey research with more than 30,000  adults in twelve states, shows that millions of adults have the INTENT to pursue additional education – ranging from undergraduate to graduate degree programs, associate’s degrees, professional certificates and trade skill training. It also shows that traditionally underserved populations, such as low-income and people of color, have the strongest intent to change their education level. 



Number of adults with high intent to go back to college

Strongest intent to change education level among



Hispanic, Low-income, 25-34



Low-income, AA, Hispanic



25-39, College non-finishers



AA, Children in HH, Low-income



College non-finishers, AA



18-29, AA, Low-income



25-39, Hispanic, College degree holders



18-29, College non-finishers



25-34, Hispanic



18-29, AA, Hispanic


Those same populations, the historically underserved, face significant barriers to satisfying their personal as well as their state’s needs.  Access and affordability are at the top of every list of potential barriers facing adult students, making free college tuition for adults key to turning this high level of intent into increased college enrollment.  Whether access and affordability comes in the form of the Campaign for Free College Tuition’s Reconnect America plan to provide tuition-free access to higher education for the purpose of earning an associate degree or industry recognized occupational certificate for any adult 25 years or older who has earned a high school diploma or its equivalent, or a more universal plan such as free college tuition for all financed by the federal government, cost will continue to be the single greatest barrier for millions of adults who want a better job, a better life and the upward mobility higher education provides. 

Without such a program, it is likely the adult demand for education and training will be unmet, leaving millions of frustrated and under skilled adults looking at an education system that seems stacked against them.  No state should want that.  And no adult with aspirations to earn a degree or certificate wants that either. 



Jack MacKenzie is the founder and President of CollegeAPP, a data analytics service that measures higher education demand among the adult population and works with colleges and training centers to find and recruit adult students into their programs.

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