Despite recent conversations that have been stirring about the value and return on investment of American higher education, there is still a strong public opinion in favor of it, according to a new Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll. The issue, the poll found, lies in how people feel about attainment and the current model of higher ed.
“We expected there to be a broad public support for the need for higher education and the link between higher ed and good jobs and a strong economic future,” says Dewayne Matthews, VP of policy and strategy and Lumina. “What we did not expect was how strong that linkage was.” Seventy-two percent of respondents said it was very important to have a degree or certificate beyond a high school diploma, while only 3 percent felt it was not important.
“There does not appear to be any evidence that Americans are believing the naysayers,” says Matthews. “They simply don’t buy the notion that you don’t really need higher education.”
One thing Matthews says did surprise him was that 41 percent of Americans said they had thought about going back to school to earn a college degree or certificate in the past year. Twenty-four percent said they were very likely to go back to school and an additional 17 percent said they were somewhat likely. If all those who said they were likely to go back to school actually did, the U.S. would exceed a 60 percent higher ed attainment rate, says Matthews, a goal the Lumina Foundation has committed itself to helping reach by 2025.