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American Attitudes on College Education

A new study by Gallup found that Americans today believe a college education is very important, and they strongly support the current redesigning of higher education to make it more “accessible and affordable.”

The Lumina Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to making post-secondary education more accessible, hired Gallup to conduct a study on current American attitudes about college education. Gallup’s survey included 1,009 Americans age 18 or older. They asked people questions about the importance of earning a college degree, its cost versus quality and how they felt about changes in higher education.

Most Americans think that earning a degree beyond high school is important. Only 3 percent said that it is not very important or not at all important. About three out of ten adult Americans currently have a bachelor degree. The majority of those who do not have a degree in higher education said that they would feel more “secure” about their job and financial potential if they did have a one. Forty-one percent of the non-degree holders in the survey said they have considered going back to school.

When asked about the overall quality of higher education, 46 percent felt that higher education in the United States is of a higher quality than it is in other countries.

Further, Americans in the study strongly supported the current redesigning of higher education that is helping working adults obtain degrees. Three out of four respondents said they would be more likely to enroll in a program that granted credit for knowledge aquired through previous work experience; 87 percent agreed that students should receive credit for knowledge received outside of school.

Americans are also very interested in the option of accelerated programs, with 70 percent saying that students should be able to pass a course as soon as they show mastery of the material, even if this occurs more quickly than the standard course speed.