Americans Still See College Education As Very Important

Career College Central summary:

  • Seven in 10 American adults believe that a college education is very important, up significantly since the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, when Gallup first asked the question as part of a Phi Delta Kappa survey, just 36% of Americans considered a college education to be very important.
  • The importance Americans place on a college education is particularly relevant as questions arise concerning the relationship between the cost of a college education and its value. Additionally, various studies and anecdotes from recent college graduates lament the soft job market for Americans with a college degree.
  • At the same time, the high value that Americans place on a college education may reflect evidence that Americans with college degrees earn significantly more over their lifetimes than those without degrees. Or the perceived importance could be a nod to the effect of the new "knowledge economy" that often leaves young Americans without degrees unable to compete for jobs.
  • Clear majorities of all major subgroups of the U.S. population say a college education is very important, although this view varies by age, race, gender, education, and partisanship. Americans who have college degrees are significantly more likely than those who don't to say that a college education is "very" important.
  • The perceived value of a college education is slightly higher among 18- to 29-year-old Americans (74%) than it is among those who are 65 years and older (67%).
  • The value of a college education is significantly higher among nonwhites — a group that includes blacks, Hispanics, and Asians — than it is among whites. 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.

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