Poll Shows Most Americans See College as Essential

Most Americans see a college degree as a necessary step toward attaining quality employment, writes Cynthia English at gallup.com.

Nearly 7 in 10 U.S. adults (69%) strongly agree or agree that having a college degree is essential for getting a good job in this country, according to a recent study by Gallup and Lumina Foundation for Education.

Given a choice, Americans are most likely to believe that students seek higher education primarily for practical reasons, rather than for personal development. According to the Gallup/Lumina study conducted in May, about half of Americans (53%) say the main reason students get more education is to earn more money and a third say it is to get a good job (33%).

"Even with the wild gyrations on Wall Street this summer, Americans still believe that the road to greater economic prosperity for themselves and our country comes through education," said Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis. "Postsecondary degree completion provides the best path forward for a brighter future."

Americans agree that a degree is essential for a good job and financial security, writes Lucia Anderson at the Lumina foundation.

Ninety-five percent of respondents said that it is very or somewhat important for financial security.

Most Americans think that students get education beyond high school to earn more money:

Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated they went to college to earn more money or get a good job.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents ages 18-34 indicated the one reason students get education beyond high school is to earn more money, while only 47.5 percent of those 65 and older responded that way.

About half of Americans surveyed agree that people who obtain a college degree have a better chance of finding a quality job:

At a time when nearly nine in 10 Americans say it is a bad time to get a quality job, about half (47%) agree that people who have a college degree have a good chance of finding a quality job and 10% disagree.

At a time when most Americans are negative about the job market in general, more than half (57%) strongly agree or agree that people who have a college degree have a good chance of finding a quality job and 15% disagree.

Some college graduates and post-graduates remain out of work, which may partly reflect today's challenging economy and jobs climate. However, it also suggests that leaders can do more to ensure that college graduates have the quality of education and skills that employers are looking for.

Recent research by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce proposes that the U.S. needs more college graduates with a quality education and skills suited for today's job market. Gallup/Lumina data suggest that the majority of Americans would agree with this assessment.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at www.matthewktabor.com , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.
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