“In an economy that most see as fundamentally unfair, Americans view college as expensive and time-consuming, and they see colleges as stuck in the past,” write researchers for Public Agenda in a new report
Almost three-quarters of U.S. adults (74%) say there are many ways to succeed in today’s work world without a college education, according to the results
of a nationally representative survey
the nonprofit group, USA Today
, and Ipsos Hidden Ground conducted in May and released earlier this month. (The findings were similar to those from a teaser of the forthcoming results of New America’s sixth annual survey on higher education
, which are slated for release next week.)
Likewise, while most respondents (86%) across political affiliations agree that a college education can help working adults advance their careers, fully half say college is a questionable investment because of high student loans and limited job opportunities.
The survey found strong beliefs about doors being closed in higher education and the labor market, with respondents saying:
- Many people who are qualified to attend college lack the opportunity (67%).
- College is too time-consuming and expensive for working adults (63%).
- The American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful (72%).
A broad majority of respondents also believe employers should get more involved in helping people prepare for careers, saying:
- Corporations would do better than colleges at educating people to succeed in their industries (67%).
- States should provide tax incentives for employers that offer college tuition benefits (79%).
Respondents are overwhelmingly supportive of public funding for workforce-focused education. They back more money for internship and training programs for college students (88%), workforce training and certification programs (87%), and the creation of flexible, short-term credential programs that can lead to a degree (85%).
But, in perhaps the most worrisome finding for public higher education, less than half of respondents agreed with the statement that public two-year and four-year colleges are a worthwhile investment of public funds because they increase opportunity for low-income students and people of color. Only 21% felt their public flagship university met that bar.