California Competes today released its latest report, Back to College, Part One: California’s Imperative to Re-Engage Adults. The report illuminates the personal obstacles and systemic barriers faced by 4 million Californians between 25 and 64 years old who dropped out of college before completing their degree. Key findings highlight suppressed levels of economic prosperity and prevalence of employment in lower-wage occupations, disproportionate impacts on single mothers without a degree, and an analysis of the structural and policy barriers that hamper adult student success.

Taking a regional approach, the report demonstrates that educational patterns vary across the state and by occupation and provides nuanced arguments about what this means for state policy making. Back to College, Part One concludes that California needs to address a systemic lack of financial aid opportunities for returning adults, lower institutional and structural barriers, and provides practical incentives for stakeholder engagement—including private industry—in education-to-employment pathway building.