As a recent college graduate, there are more than a few things I wish I’d had a heads up about before I started those four years. Like how hard it’d be to wake up for 8 a.m. classes, or that textbooks at the university bookstore are way overpriced. Fortunately for me, my regrets seem pretty insignificant in comparison to how the majority of Americans feel about their education decisions.
A new survey by the Education Consumer Pulse, which interviewed nearly 90,000 U.S. adults aged 18 to 65, found that more than half (51%) of respondents would change at least one aspect of their education trajectory.
And we’re not just talking fewer all-nighters. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they would go back and change their field of study, while 28% said they would have chosen a different institution altogether. And 12% of respondents would change their degree type if given the chance.
It isn’t all bad news, though. Despite their regrets, most survey respondents still reported a high-quality postsecondary experience overall, including a whopping 71% of those who achieved a postgraduate degree. The study also found that STEM graduates are the least likely to report education regrets. So hey, maybe your parents had a point in nudging you toward the sciences and away from that theater degree.
Another interesting finding: Students who completed vocational, trade or technical programs reported more positive feelings about their education decisions than individuals with an associate or bachelor’s degree.
If your post-collegiate regrets stem more from the fact that you’re now swimming in student loans, check out this one trick that could help you pay them off a whole lot faster. And while you may not want to head back to school to study an entirely different major, that doesn’t mean you can’t switch careers – just take it from these three people who actually did it.