By Jael Greene
Americans value postsecondary education and view it as essential to getting a good job, according to the 2015 Gallup-Lumina Foundation Study of the American Public’s Opinion on Higher Education. Among the topics broached by the study: the importance of postsecondary degrees and certificates, what types of programs should be considered “college” and whether postsecondary education is affordable to all who seek it.
Among the poll’s findings:
- Nearly 70% of Americans say postsecondary degrees or professional certificates are “very important” for adults to have, while only 6% say they are “not very important” or “not at all important” to have.
- When asked how important having a postsecondary degree or certificate will be in the future, 70% of Americans reported that they believe having a degree or certificate will become more important over time, while 7% say it will be less important than it is currently.
- When asked who is most responsible for increasing the percentage of Americans in postsecondary programs, an overwhelming majority reported that this responsibility lay in the hands of individuals (55%).
- 11% chose colleges and universities
- 11% chose the federal government
- 8% chose state government
- 5% chose the President of the United States
- 4% chose local communities
- 4% chose businesses
- The poll presents four definitions of “college” and found that:
- 69% of respondents defined college as a campus where students live and attend classes with the goal of getting a four-year degree (an increase from 51% in 2014).
- 54% defined college as students working to earn a professional certificate to use in their workplace (an increase from 40% in 2014).
- 38% defined college as students working to earn a two-year associate degree (an increase from 31% in 2014).
- 26% defined college as an online learning environment where students log in to classes (an increase from 20% in 2014).
- 59% of those polled believe that postsecondary education is available to anyone in the U.S. who needs it, while 41% do not believe postsecondary education is available to everyone.
- Only 24% of those polled believe that postsecondary education is affordable to anyone who needs it, while 76% say it is not affordable for everyone.