Millennials, nonwhites place most importance on college education

Lauren Williams's picture
Friday, December 20, 2013

Seven-in-ten Americans believe that a college education is very important, according to a new Gallup poll. This is up significantly from the 1970s and 80s. In 1978, when the polling organization first asked this question, just over one-third (36 percent) considered a college education to be very important, Gallup reports.

The challenging job market that finds half of college graduates either unemployed or underemployed has spurred debate in the past year about the value of a college education in relation to its spiraling costs. The bottom line is that Americans continue to place a high value on a college education as the surest path to a good job and the opportunity to earn more over their lifetime than those without a degree.

The perceived value of a college education is slightly higher among Millennials than Baby Boomers and seniors (74 percent vs. 67 percent), the Gallup survey found. It also found that nonwhites—blacks, Hispanics and Asians—have a higher opinion on the value of a college education than do whites. Women, too, are more likely than men to value a college degree, a reflection of the higher percentages of women currently enrolled in higher education compared with past years.

A majority of Affluent individuals rank “educational opportunities” as a fundamental bedrock of the American Dream, according to a 2012 Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner survey. Another survey conducted in August of this year found that nine-out-of-ten Affluent respondents credit their college education as a contributor to their success, while 84 percent said they believe a college education is necessary in today’s workplace.

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