Research Shows Higher Education Top Priority

Excelsior College

Excelsior CollegeALBANY, N.Y. (February 27, 2013) — The Patriot Poll, an online survey conducted by the Excelsior College Polling Institute, reveals strong interest among active duty military personnel in pursuing higher education during their transition to civilian life, as well as a desire for flexible options and online learning solutions to complete their degrees.

Quick Summary:

  • Majority – 88.4 percent – view college degrees critical to securing quality career or job
  • Online learning and credit for military training valued as means to earn degree
  • Financial and work/family life issues key criteria when choosing academic institution

Results of the Patriot Poll research findings were presented by Excelsior College at the Council of College and Military Educators Annual Symposium, in San Diego, Calif., on February 27, 2013.

The 678 respondents nationwide were loud and clear about the importance of a college degree to success in a post-military career. Nearly nine in ten (88.4 percent) believe that earning a degree was very or somewhat important to their future success. In addition, 43.4 percent believe that salary levels are higher for persons with a college degree.

The majority of participants (75.4 percent) were aware that military job training can be accepted as college credit, an important consideration in planning a degree path as a civilian. More than half of the respondents intend to work while they attend college after military life. Equal amounts, 28.7 percent, stated that they plan to study either full- or part-time while working either full-or part-time.  Only 16.6 percent had plans to attend school full-time and not work while doing so.

An “online four-year school” was of most interest to one-fifth of all Patriot Poll respondents (19.4 percent). About one-third preferred a four-year public school (33.7 percent), a community college (20.8 percent), or a four-year private school (13.4 percent).

Regardless of the preferred institution, however, 81 percent expressed interest in online programs that allow students to study at their own pace and take exams when they are ready.

Regarding the use of text books, 37 percent of respondents said they preferred “E-Books” sent electronically to their own devices or computers versus printed & bound text books. Only 17 percent had no preference, 28.5 percent preferred traditional text books and 12.5 percent said they would opt for whichever is less expensive.

In terms of choosing a college, 59.4 percent cited financial considerations the most important criteria. Financial aid was ranked second, at 48.8 percent. However, only half (49.4 percent) indicated they were aware of Veterans education benefits and planned to use them. A full one-fifth (20.6 percent) of respondents said they were either unsure of or did not know how to use these benefits.

Three-quarters of those surveyed indicated support from relatives or their spouse in degree planning and school decision making was “very” (33.7 percent) or “somewhat” (39.9 percent) important. 

The Patriot Poll reported the most popular fields of study among service members include business/management (19.4 percent), medicine/healthcare (18.3 percent), criminal justice/law/security (15.2 percent), computer science/IT (13.4 percent), science (7.8 percent) and engineering (5.7 percent).

About the Patriot Poll

The Patriot Poll was conducted by Excelsior College which focuses on military issues and higher education. For complete survey results, including crosstabs visit:

Research Methodology

The Patriot Poll surveyed 678 active duty servicemen and women. Participants have either earned a degree and plan another; are enrolled in a college degree program; or are interested in a degree but have not yet enrolled. The poll was conducted November 18-22, 2012. Participants completed an online survey. The poll has a +/- four percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

About Excelsior College

Excelsior College is a regionally accredited, nonprofit distance learning institution that focuses on removing obstacles to the educational goals of adult learners. Approximately 31 percent of Excelsior’s students are active-duty or reserve military personnel. Founded in 1971 and located in Albany, NY, Excelsior offers more efficient and affordable access to degree completion through multiple avenues: its own online courses and college-level proficiency examinations, and the acceptance in transfer of credit from other colleges and universities as well as recognized corporate and military training programs. Excelsior College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.