To learn more about how working adults view their job trajectory and education pathways, University of Phoenix commissioned a 2017 survey of 1,019 adults working at least 20 hours per week in the United States to better understand their views on higher education and how they spend their free time. The survey revealed that many of these working adults would like to return to school, but say they face barriers preventing them from earning an advanced degree. The survey also shed light on the daily activities workers spend most of their free time on in lieu of going back to school, like watching TV and social media.


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Less than half of working adults are very satisfied with their education. 

About half of working adults say they would like to return to school, with about a quarter planning to enroll within the next 18 months.

Although 54 percent of working adults say they would like to return to school, they cite lack of time to do so. The most noted reasons for not returning to school is minimal time due to work commitments and children.

Although working adults have an average of 47.7 hours of free time each week, they prefer to spend it on activities such as watching TV, spending time with family, or on social media.

Additional Findings

  • Workers expect that pursing education would require 13.4 hours per week, on average
  • 19 percent of workers are given professional development resources as a benefit at work
  • 33 percent expect to increase their wages by more than $15,000 by pursuing additional education
  • 60 percent expect that continuing education would cost less than $25,000
  • Among those who do not have plans to pursue further education, 46 percent see no benefit to a higher level of degree, 35 percent are concerned they cannot afford it, 29 percent cite a lack of time and 23 percent do not like school


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between May 8-23, 2017, among 1,019 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, who are employed for at least 20 hours a week. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact University of Phoenix at