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Season 1. Episode 5.

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Is a Four-Year Degree still valuable? This is a question that’s top of mind for students, parents, and educators today. According to a recent survey by ThirdWay/Global Strategy Group and GS Strategy Group, over 70% of Americans feel that both associate and bachelor’s degrees are worth the investment and usually pay off. However, participants also highlight the need to make higher education affordable and ensure it provides a good return on investment. 

These survey findings align with Growing Inland Achievement’s recent study on higher education perceptions in the Inland Empire, which revealed that 86% of residents value higher education. However, there’s a critical need to address information gaps and misconceptions about higher education costs, financial aid availability, and career pathways. I spoke to Paula Di Dio to better understand the dynamic factors influencing educational perceptions and choices:  

[Paula Di Dio speaking] “The main barriers preventing students from enrolling and staying in post-secondary education are financial. Insufficient financial aid leaves them struggling to cover not just tuition, but also books, materials, and transportation for example. Also, many families are unaware they are eligible for financial aid, so they don’t apply. Our studies have found that unclear career paths deter students. College counselors and academic advisers are crucial here, so ensuring students have easy access to them is essential.” 

In other news, University of California, Riverside has secured its place among the top 1.3% of universities globally, according to the 2024 Center for World University Rankings. 

This ranking evaluated 20,966 postsecondary institutions globally based on their alumni’s education and academic achievements, as well as alumni employability and professional success, faculty credentials, and research output and impact. This marks the sixth consecutive year that UCR has maintained a top 1.3% ranking. Way to go, UCR!

It’s graduation season, and this year, over 100,000 Inland Empire students are celebrating the achievement of earning their high school diploma, college degree, or certificate. Among these accomplished graduates, over 60,000 students are completing their high school education, and more than 40,000 postsecondary graduates are stepping into the world with degrees or certificates in hand, prepared to make significant contributions to their fields and communities. To all the graduates of 2024, we extend our heartfelt congratulations. As you move forward, we wish you continued success, fulfillment, and the courage to pursue your dreams with passion and purpose. We can’t wait to see all that you will achieve!

And that’s this week’s GIA Education Report, I’m Alyssa Silva.

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Growing Inland Achievement (GIA) created the GIA Education Report to keep you informed and connected with the most relevant developments shaping the educational sphere. Tune in to stay up-to-date with key insights and stories impacting education today. Learn more at

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