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Only 25 percent of Americans say higher education ‘is fine how it is,’ survey finds

If the American people were asked to grade the higher education system, it likely wouldn’t receive an A.

A poll from the think tank New America finds only 25 percent of respondents said higher education “is fine how it is.” In a report on the findings, Inside Higher Ed writes Americans see “the work force and societal value of getting a college degree” but aren’t satisfied with the status quo.

From the article:

Of concern for colleges and universities, just one in four of the survey’s respondents feel higher education is functioning fine the way it is. … A contributor to the widespread belief that higher education too often does not deliver on its promise, the survey found, is that 58 percent of respondents believe colleges put their own long-term interests first instead of those of their students.

The dissatisfaction toward America’s higher education system is present in all age groups but most prevalent among young people, Inside Higher Ed reports:

Millennials in particular felt this way, despite being on track to be the most educated generation yet and the most experienced with the system. Among this group, 64 percent said colleges put their own interests first and only 13 percent say higher education is fine as it is, compared to 42 percent and 39 percent, respectively, for the Silent Generation (age 72 and up).

One surprising finding from the poll might be the “positive vibes for two-year colleges”:

Community colleges and public, four-year institutions fared better in the survey than did for-profit or private colleges. That suggests the stigma around attending community colleges may be fading.

“Two-year community colleges really seem to be having a moment,” said [Rachel] Fishman.

For example, fewer than half of respondents said for-profits (40 percent) and private colleges (43 percent) are worth the cost, compared to 61 percent who said that about public, four-year institutions and a whopping 82 percent about community colleges.

While the poll data show that Americans see value in attending college, it also reports those surveyed said nearly half of those who enroll don’t successfully secure a degree.

“Americans seem to be aware that we have a completion crisis,” said Fishman, a policy analyst with New America.

Read the article.

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