higher education

Is higher ed’s reality meeting expectations? Americans weigh in

A new survey gauges different generations' views of how well colleges and universities meet the needs of and help students.

Three-quarters of Americans said they believe it is easier to be successful with a college degree than without, according to a new survey from New America. But despite that belief, many Americans believe higher education is not helping students succeed.

The survey and report, Varying Degrees, compile data and responses from a survey of the general public ages 18 and older in order to better understand perceptions of higher education and economic mobility.

The report explores the “pessimism about the American Dream, the undelivered promise of American higher education, and the value of public colleges and universities.”

The results show that overall, people are aware that the American Dream is increasingly out of reach, but they also recognize that higher education is an important social good. People with college educations earn more over their lifetimes than those without, and a more educated population benefits society in multiple ways, including increasing tax revenues and lowering unemployment.

(Next page: Do Americans believe community colleges and four-year institutions are worth the cost?)

Laura Ascione