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Pandemic inspired parents to chase their dreams by going back to school

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Authentic candid parent with daughter child in front of computer laptop at home

As children settle into school, their parents are also planning to hit the books, too.

A survey of 2,000 parents looked at how many are thinking about furthering their education, finding that 62% have realized during the pandemic that life’s too short to procrastinate on their dreams.

Forty-four percent of parents said they plan to return to college to learn something completely new, and over half believe that school could help refresh their perspective.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of UMass Global, nearly four in five respondents even think they’d be better students now than when they first attended college.

But chasing dreams hasn’t been easy for most parents.

Forty-four percent of parents said they plan to go "Back to School" (GIF via Giphy)

Respondents cited prioritizing their finances (49%) or starting a family (40%) as the top reasons for not achieving their goals sooner.

Only three in 10 parents have completed a degree related to their dream job in college.
However, some tried to go after their dream career but didn’t finish (11%), and 17% chose a realistic job option.

The study also revealed that three in four parents would now find it difficult to juggle school and family life.

Another three in five worry that furthering their education would limit the time they get to spend with their loved ones.

To find a balance, 77% of parents would feel most comfortable enrolling in programs that are either entirely online (47%) or hybrid classes (30%).

“It’s never too late to dust off an unrealized dream,” said UMass Global Chancellor Gary Brahm. “Parents who are contemplating an online education for themselves will benefit most from faculty and student support teams who know how to guide a busy parent from enrollment to commencement.”

Parents also agreed that professional coaching is important, with 65% saying that they’d be more likely to consider enrolling in college if they had someone by their side to help them navigate the process.

While browsing for schools, half of parents said they've rediscovered their old passions, such as “working with children,” “pursuing a career in culinary and pastry arts,” “interior decorating” or “owning my own bar and bartending.”

“Starting and running one’s dream business is a complex endeavor,” Brahm said. “You might be able to mix the best drinks in the world, but if you want to open your own bar, you need to make payroll. To be successful, entrepreneurs need relevant skills like business management, data analysis, information technology, leadership and marketing.”

Parents listed other reasons why they want to further their education, including one who admitted “I want to complete my major, which I stepped away from to have children."

Said another, “I need my kids to know education is important — how can I teach that if I don’t do it myself?”


  • Wanting to learn something new - 44%
  • Change of career - 32%
  • Spare time - 29%
  • Newfound passion - 28%
  • Rediscovered passion - 28%

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