More College Freshmen See Getting Good Job As Key Goal, Poll Finds

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, January 27, 2012

Seeing their parents struggle with unemployment and other money worries over the last few years, the nation's current batch of college freshmen increasingly view a bachelor's degree as a necessary ticket to better jobs, according to a UCLA survey being released Thursday.

In responding to the "American Freshman" poll, 85.9% of first-year students across the country said that being able to land a good job is a very important reason for attending college. That is the strongest response to that question in the 40 years it has been asked and is sharply higher than the 70.4% reply in 2006, before the recession began.

The survey asks freshmen to select reasons they are pursuing higher education. For a generation, the most popular one was "to learn more about things that interest me." This year, 82.9% said that was a major motive. But since 2009, the concern about jobs has been on top.

Also setting a record was the response to a query about whether becoming very well off financially is an "essential or very important" objective. The survey showed that 79.6% of the students described such affluence as a compelling goal, up from the pre-recession response of 73.4% in 2006 and double the levels during the more counter-cultural 1970s.

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