CAPPS - Avocacy and Communication Professional Development

California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Mixed Views of Higher Ed

03/12/2014

Inside Higher Ed. Mar 10, 2014.

Americans with a college education are more likely than others to report a good or very good standard of living, according to a new poll of American adults. But while that's consistent with the views of college educators about one of the benefits of attending their institutions, other responses may raise concerns for college leaders, especially at private institutions.

The survey of 1,006 adults nationally was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute. The poll found that college-educated respondents were more likely (75.5 percent) than non-college educated respondents (63.6 percent) to report a good or very good financial standard of living. But only 55.9 percent of those who attended college credited their time there with their economic success -- a majority but not an overwhelming one.

Of particular potential concern to college leaders, only 31.5 percent of Americans said that college was worth the cost today. The figure was higher for those with college background (35.1 percent) than those without (22.0 percent).

The answers to two questions suggest that private colleges may have considerable need to better educate people about their prices and the availability of aid at their institutions. Only 40.1 percent of respondents were aware that private colleges do not generally charge more for students from out of state. 

Further, 73.7 percent agreed that public higher education institutions are always less expensive than private institutions. (While that statement is generally true for sticker price, private colleges point out all the time that, at many institutions, students often pay comparable to or less than what they might pay at public institutions.)

The results suggest that, even in a poll of all adults (a group that would include many who are not digital natives), there is significant openness to online education. Thirty-eight percent reported that they were open to online-only courses or programs. However, the poll found that most adults -- contrary to the way many online programs are priced -- believe that there should be a discount compared to on-campus education. Two-thirds believe that online programs should cost less than comparable in-person programs.

Amid increasing public discussion of internships, the poll asked Americans how many had completed them. Of those who were college-educated, 17.8 percent had done so. And of those, just under 70 percent said that the internship helped them get a first job and launch a career.