A new survey reveals that the majority of American adults value a college education, as 7 in 10 people see a college education as very important, up significantly since the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1978 only 36% of Americans said that a college education was important. Although now many are re-examining the cost versus value equation of a college degree and online education may pose a threat to the existence of many traditional colleges, belief in the power of a degree is growing, according to Frank Newport and Brandon Busteed of Gallup.
As the U.S. continues to compete in an increasingly globally competitive landscape, it’s crucial that Americans gain the education needed to compete. Americans appear to recognize these realities. The fact that 70% of Americans agree that a college education is very valuable makes it appear that, in many ways, a college degree has become synonymous with the American Dream.
People’s views about a college education vary by age, race, gender, education, and partisanship, but clear majorities of all major subgroups of the United States population believe a college education is important.
Americans having college degrees are significantly more likely than those who don’t to say that a college education is “very” important, according to the survey. The perceived value of a college education is a little higher among 18- to 29-year-old Americans than it is among 65-year olds.
The survey also found that a belief in the value of a college education is significantly higher among blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Women are more likely than men to value a college degree, which may reflect that higher percentages of women are now enrolled in higher education compared with years past.
At the same time, Americans value earning a college degree so highly, they may also be more focused than ever before on what they expect from a degree. It’s not just the degree that matters anymore, but what comes as a result: a good job and a better life. As the cost of higher education skyrockets, consumers will naturally demand more and have higher expectations — presenting a host of new challenges for those who run colleges and universities in the years to come.
Colleges and universities are doing their part to fill their classrooms and provide access to students by offering tuition discounts to those who are unable or unwilling to pay the full price of tuition. The discounts come in the form of institutional grants and scholarships and offset published tuition and fees. Students get discounts depending on their financial situation, academic standing, or athletic ability.
A survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers in 2012 found that the average tuition discount rate for full-time freshmen at private schools rose to a record 45%, marking the sixth consecutive annual rate increase.