New Clark survey of emerging adults reveals views on education

The “Now” generation says “Wait” - New Clark poll reveals fast-moving emerging adults won’t skip college and view it as ultimate success ticket.

Despite the rising cost of tuition, more than 80 percent of emerging adults ages 18 to 29 agree that one of the most important keys to success in life is a college education, according to the Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults.

Regardless of the potential debt awaiting them after graduating and the dire news about the job market for their generation, emerging adults insist that college costs are well spent. Nearly 90 percent are confident that eventually they will get what they want out of life. In addition, 16 percent of those surveyed believe that finishing college is the most important factor for becoming an adult.

"Today's emerging adults are optimistic. They know they're entering an economy that rewards the ability to use information to solve problems, and that's something a college education provides," said Clark Psychology Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, who directed the study. "Emerging adults also know that employers select candidates who have a college degree over those who don't. Most emerging adults are willing to invest time, effort, and money into pursuing a degree."

"The Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults helps us identify the values, beliefs and expectations of 18- to 29-year-olds, including college students and graduates," said Clark University President David Angel. "Clark launched the Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) model for liberal education to give emerging adults the opportunity to develop the skills and capabilities that are crucial to success while helping them prepare for a productive, fulfilling life after college."

Clark's pioneering LEEP program better prepares today's students for the complex challenges of a rapidly changing world by fully integrating life-changing global, workplace and personal experiences with an innovative liberal arts curriculum, partnerships with leading employers and Clark alumni, and the signature Clark outcome of effective practice.

The Clark poll also shows that 37 percent of emerging adults have not been able to find enough financial support to get the education they need. Responding to this issue, Clark focuses on cutting costs without compromising the value of its education. "As a university, we stress being responsible to our students by ensuring a valuable return on investment. This is the essence of LEEP," said Angel.

The Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults is based on 1,029 interviews of 18- to 29-year-olds nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 3.06 percent. A mixed-mode methodology was used for this project. Visit

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.