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Beyond Degrees

Education to Career Pathways: Students Say Yes, but Are Educators and Parents Willing and Prepared to Help Them Navigate Options?
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At a glance

With this paper, we deepen and expand upon our body of research into the public awareness and reputation of nondegree pathways, focusing on the beliefs and attitudes of young people, their parents, and their teachers. For those looking to pursue, or encourage someone to pursue, a nondegree pathway today, there are no easy answers. Information about nondegree pathways is hard to come by, and it isn’t making its way into schools at a great enough rate to disrupt the damaging “college for all” mentality.

Joel Vargas Vice President
Julie Lammers Senior Vice President, ASA
Practices & Centers Topics

Yet, what we observe among those who have chosen the path less traveled hints at a subtle awareness shift taking place. All parties—young people, parents, and educators alike—want more information about nondegree pathways, and are hungry to understand what opportunity exists beyond the degree. And most importantly, those young people who are pursuing or have pursued apprenticeships, boot camps, certifications, micro-credentials, and beyond are generally satisfied with their choices. They are largely employed, and they are appreciative of the opportunity to connect learning to earning in a meaningful way that doesn’t come with a burdensome price tag or require them to put life on hold for four years.

With this research, we put forth a call for change and a request for students, parents, and educators everywhere to adopt a more open lens on what success looks like. We ask the public to help those young people who are about to transition to adult life to not resort to knee-jerk choices, but instead to ask the question, “What if?” We commit to playing a role in the establishment of a stronger framework of information and quality assurance that makes the choice less daunting and more realistic for millions of young Americans.

Additional Resources

Discover the importance of education-to-career pathways with our comprehensive resources. These materials highlight how embracing diverse educational routes beyond the traditional four-year degree can enhance the diversity of education and career opportunities. Read and review our resources to understand how education systems need to adapt to this new way of thinking, driving diversity of opportunities for learners and empowering individuals with varied skills and experiences.

Up Next: Success, Redefined

If you like what you read in Beyond Degrees, check out our Success Redefined report!

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