New edX Survey Reveals Americans Are Conflicted About Education Decisions in the Wake of COVID-19

edX recently conducted a survey exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way that Americans think about their future education and career decisions, and found conflicting points of view. The pandemic has directly impacted 58% of Americans’ decisions to seek additional education. While respondents agreed that learning opportunities to advance their careers were best, they remained split on the need to invest in education during these times. Additional results highlight that now, when education may be needed most, there are barriers that prevent them from viewing or using education as a solution.

Education has always been linked to improved job and earning potential, and with the pandemic leading us into a likely economic downturn, cost is clearly top of mind. The majority of our respondents (56%) are interested in pursuing additional education but cannot due to cost (29%) or other factors such as limited time (23%). In contrast, just over a quarter (26%) said they are more likely to seek additional education because they want to find a recession-proof job.

Image of grad cap with text "over half are interested in pursuing additional education"

With many looking ahead to a summer of continued social distancing and fully remote work, educational opportunities that are affordable, flexible and relevant will be crucial. For Americans interested in taking an online course during this period, 45% are looking for a course that will help advance their career, compared to 30% who are interested in taking a course to explore a new interest. 

Past recessions have driven people to gain additional education and advanced degrees to better position themselves in the job market. This time around, the quality of online learning and the innovation of modular credentials means that traditionally perceived barriers like location, time, and a significant investment of money are less of an obstacle. With online learning, everyone has the opportunity to learn new skills to help future-proof their careers in what has become an economically unstable time period.

Developing programs and credentials that help people gain the knowledge and skills they need to advance their careers is in edX’s DNA. We offer an innovative suite of stackable, modular credentials – including MicroMasters® Programs, Professional Certificate Programs and MicroBachelors® Programs – that deliver meaningful career impact in a flexible and affordable way. Online learning has the power to unlock new and bigger opportunities for the restless learners, like you, that come to edX to achieve their goals.