Survey: Most Americans still say college is valuable

Many U.S. residents view postsecondary education as essential to getting a good job

The majority of U.S. residents believe that it is "very important" to have a postsecondary degree or professional certificate, according to a recent survey from the Gallup-Lumina Foundation.

The survey polled 1,616 U.S. adults between Oct. 1 and Nov. 5, 2015. Researchers found that, in general, respondents associate a postsecondary education with securing a good job—and also believe that college experience is valuable for its own sake.

Around 70% of respondents strongly agree or agree that a professional certificate or degree beyond high school is essential for finding secure employment. While a majority of whites, blacks, and Hispanics agree, Hispanics (58%) and blacks (50%) are more likely than whites (33%) to strongly agree that a college credential helps in the job search.

Most Americans also believe that going to college is valuable in its own right, with 66% strongly agreeing or agreeing that it is wise to take some college classes even if it does not lead to a degree.

Colleges turn to economic impact data to prove value

When asked about their views regarding how responsible various stakeholders are for increasing postsecondary degree and certificate attainment, 72% said individuals themselves were "very responsible," followed by:

  • Colleges and universities (53%);
  • State governments (38%);
  • The federal government (36%);
  • The U.S. President (35%);
  • Local communities (31%); and
  • Businesses (27%).

Seventy percent of respondents said having a postsecondary degree or professional certificate will be "more important" in the future for getting a good job, compared with only 7% who believe it will be less important.

Despite financial strain, students stay optimistic about value of college

Americans are also generally supportive of expanding access to college. About 58% of U.S. residents believe it is very important to increase the proportion of people in the country who have a postsecondary degree or professional certificate, a view shared by:

  • 71% of Hispanics;
  • 70% of blacks; and
  • 54% of whites.

(Jones, Gallup, 4/12).

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