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From: Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez
Subject: Weekly Briefing: What do people really think of higher education?
What people really think about higher education
Most people would advise others to pursue a four-year degree, but many don’t think that colleges go a good job educating students, or that higher education is of great benefit to graduates, according to a national survey conducted by
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What people really think about higher education
Most people would advise others to pursue a four-year degree, but many don’t think that colleges do a good job of educating students, or that higher education is of great benefit to graduates, according to a national survey by The Chronicle and Langer Research Associates.
Langer conducted a random-sample national survey of 1,025 adults that sought to gauge attitudes about the value of a college education and about colleges’ broader activities and goals. The survey comes at a time when dissatisfaction with higher education has seemingly reached a fever pitch — other national polls and news stories report that trust in colleges has declined.
The new survey’s results show that people see higher education as an important means of individual advancement, but not always for the greater good.
Degree holders say college was worth it
In our survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents with a college degree said the cost was worth it. When you separate those respondents by income, the positive attitudes toward college tend to follow salaries. About 88 percent of higher earners — those with a household income greater than $100,000 — said their degree benefits outweighed the cost. But only 63 percent of graduates in households with incomes less than $50,000 said their degree benefits outweighed the cost.
Less than a third of respondents said that colleges were doing an excellent or very good job of leveling the playing field for success in society.
Most respondents still say: go to college
About 78 percent of those surveyed would recommend that a close friend or relative pursue a bachelor’s degree. That figure includes 75 percent of respondents who themselves have not earned a college credential and 57 percent of respondents who said that their own bachelor’s or associate degree was not worth it.
In the comment section of the survey, respondents who would advise friends and family members to pursue a four-year degree said that career prospects and the potential for a broader worldview were good reasons to do so. But many did qualify the suggestion, saying that students should select a major that warrants the time and money required.
Meanwhile, about 20 percent of respondents recommended against pursuing a bachelor’s degree, citing the costs and time needed to graduate and the potential for accumulating heavy loan debt without significant financial reward.
Do colleges benefit students, the local community, the state, and society?
The answers to questions about the benefits of college to students who graduate and do not graduate, to the local community, to the state as a whole, and to society over all varied based on political views.
More than 60 percent of Democrats said colleges in their area benefited the local community, the state, and society over all. For Republicans and independents, those figures were closer to 50 percent.
Graduates question their education
Here’s a startling response for college leaders: Only 40 percent of respondents said colleges were excellent or very good at educating students. Nearly 20 percent said they were not so good or poor on that measure.
Maybe the most surprising factor was that those with more education had less-positive views on this question. Those who hadn’t gone beyond high school responded more positively. Ratings were lower among those who had some college or a bachelor’s degree.
- Read. This article delves into the history of the corporate presentation. The story is not as boring as an actual corporate presentation. (MIT Technology Review)
- Listen. Coming at you with another episode of the podcast Articles of Interest (sorry for the repeat, but I really am learning so much). This one is about corduroy, the fabric that’s sometimes associated with academics.
Seeking reading recommendations: Now that summer is nearly over, I can finally go on vacation. I like to avoid the steeper seasonal airfare that typically aligns with the school calendar, and travel in the fall and winter instead. To close out the season, and prepare my reading list, I want to know: What novels did you read this summer? Write me your favorite titles, and you may see them in a future briefing: firstname.lastname@example.org. —Fernanda
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