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Maine Technical College System

News Release
Survey Finds One in Five Maine Adults Without Degree Have High Interest In College

Monday, February 26, 2001
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

AUGUSTA, Me.—One in five Maine adults— or 90,000 Mainers — without a college degree have a high interest in pursuing a degree, and most want to do so to improve their job prospects and income levels, according to a new study released today. One in two adults — or 240,000 Mainers — have at least some interest in a degree, according to the survey.

The study also revealed that most adults who do not have a degree are comfortable with the idea of being on a college campus and with using computers, but the vast majority need help paying for college and fitting it in around busy schedules.

"This study confirms what we thought, that Mainers recognize the importance of a college degree to prospering in this economy, but we need to do more to bring it within their reach," said Maine Technical College System President John Fitzsimmons.

Fitzsimmons said, "Sixty-one percent of Maine employers are having trouble finding skilled workers, and one in five are forced to recruit out of state. Clearly, Maine has a tremendous opportunity to improve our citizens' income levels and career prospects, and help our businesses prosper, by making college more accessible to working adults."

The study, which was conducted in January by Strategic Marketing Services of Portland, was based on a statewide telephone survey of 400 Maine adults between the ages of 18 and 55 who do not hold a college degree. Approximately 455,000 Mainers in that age bracket lack a college degree. The survey has a 95% confidence level, with a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

Nine in ten respondents said that low cost and financial assistance would help them pursue a degree. The vast majority, 76%, said they receive no educational benefits, such as tuition reimbursement, from their employers. Convenient location (81%), small classes (75%), part-time schedules (56%), and academic support (57%) were also cited as characteristics that would make it easier to go to college.

Surprisingly, 44 percent of those surveyed expressed interest in taking online courses, saying it would make it easier to pursue a degree. Eighty-six percent use a computer and 73 percent use the Internet at home, work or both.

Nationally, two-year community and technical colleges play a major role in helping working adults attain a college degree, said Fitzsimmons. Forty-four percent of undergraduates start at two-year colleges, either in career programs or liberal arts transfer programs. Public two-year colleges also offer the most affordable option for citizens.

"This study shows that our direction at the Technical College System is on target -- freezing tuition, expanding programs that are tied to the job market, adding the associate in arts transfer program and online courses, and opening new off-campus centers, as well as keeping classes small, providing more flexible scheduling, and offering academic support," said Fitzsimmons.

"Maine's challenge is to make college more affordable, and to continue efforts to expand access to higher education," he said.

For a copy of the full report, please call the Maine Technical College System at 287-1070 or link to the Survey of Maine Citizens Who Have Not Attained a College Degree.