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Posted on Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

University of Michigan study: GenXers are lifelong learners

By Kellie Woodhouse

A lot of people in their 30s and 40s are still on the education train.

A University of Michigan study finds that 48 percent of an estimated 80 million GenXers are enrolled in continuing education courses or training necessary for certifications.

More than one in every 10 are enrolled in classes to continue formal educations

Generation X is usually defined as including people born between 1965 and 1976.

The findings show that 1.8 million GenXers are studying to earn associate degrees, 1.7 million are seeking bachelor's degrees and nearly 2 million are taking courses to earn advanced degrees.

In fall 2012, 1,166 students at U-M were 35 or older, and just 90 of those students were pursuing undergraduate degrees. U-M's total student body is 43,426.

According to Miller, just more than 40 percent of GenXers have earned a bachelor's degree, with those living in cities or suburbs more likely to have a degree than those living in small towns or rural areas.

The study also found that GenXers have earned graduate and professional degrees at a higher rate than any previous generation. By 2011, two decades after finishing high school, 22 percent of those surveyed had completed at least one advanced degree.

"This is an impressive level of engagement in lifelong learning," U-M researcher Jon D. Miller said in a release. "It reflects the changing realities of a global economy, driven by science and technology."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, May 8, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

Whole Dude - Whole Recognition: It is my impression that people are willing to spend their time and money to earn a certificate or degree as it may be used as a tool to gain better recognition in the society and the community to which they belong. A piece of paper issued by a university can deliver some sense of satisfaction in life even when many of those degree holders are not able to use or apply that education in their current occupations. This obsession for a degree or diploma is providing a big incentive to all the schools of higher education to invent study programs and courses which have no intrinsic job potential and are of little value in the marketplace. My lifetime is not enough if I have to learn about all the functions that my human body performs to keep me alive. That recognition provides me with a sense of satisfaction if I am not able to pursue academic education for a higher degree or qualification.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

I'm proud to be among the last generation that probably still knows how to do math without a calculator, can read a MAP, and can do trivia without Google.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

Good luck being lifelong earners, at least in Michigan. Maybe Governor Snyder has a secret taskforce of his buddies working on that problem.

Dirty Mouth

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:18 a.m.

Correction: Generation X is defined as including people born between 1965 and 1980. So glad I didn't get my masters at U of M.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

Why does it take them so long to understand the ideologies of progressivism?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

Too bad they didn't ask them what is driving this 'motivation' other than those seeking some higher level of certification. Could it be that they perceive their upward mobility is somewhat limited and they think more education will get them better results. It can't hurt. Seems to me anyone that works in a professional envirionment realizes that whether you pursue an advanced degree or not, learning doesn't end when you get your BA/BS or equivalent degree. It is a lifelong process.