College freshmen increasingly see higher education as a path to financial security during uncertain economic times, according to a UCLA-sponsored survey of first-year students across the nation.
A record high level of current freshmen cited getting a better job as a very important reason to pursue a college diploma: 87.9% of them, up about 17 percentage points from 2006, before the recession began. Making more money as a result of earning a bachelor's degree was key to 74.6% of them, rising from 69% six years ago, said The American Freshman survey released Thursday by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute.
"With the recession going on, they have seen so many people losing jobs and hopefully have seen statistics that those with college degrees are much more likely to have jobs than people who don't have college degrees," said John H. Pryor, the study's main author and the institute's managing director.
The report also found increasing money pressures on college enrollment: 66.6% of freshmen said current U.S. economic conditions significantly affected their choices of colleges, compared with just over 62% two years ago when the question was first posed. Tuition and other expenses strongly influenced where they enrolled for 43.3%, up from 31% when first asked in 2004.