Survey: American confidence in higher ed is waning
- Three in four Americans believe it is easier to be successful with a college degree, and nearly as many see higher education as being a social good, but 58% believe colleges put their own long-term interests over student interests.
- Only one in four Americans in a recent New America survey think the higher education system is fine the way it is, and among millennials, that number drops to 13%. However, 79% believe that most people who enroll in college benefit in some way, though only 46% believe that most people who enroll finish with a degree.
- Only 40% of people believe that most people have "a decent chance of getting into a good college" to access those benefits.
The belief by the general public that colleges are not concerned with student interests aligns with recent research indicating most presidents in higher education don't see students as their top priority. However, given the number of presidents recently who have been ousted or have resigned over student protests or other things relating to student success and experience like sexual assault, it is essential for leadership to divert more attention to this area of college operations.
Not only should more attention be given to promoting student learning and success on campus, but the American public's sentiments about access echo the broader conversation about who should be entitled to that success. Outreach officers must do a better job of working with K-12 counselors to provide more information to a greater number of students to help get them to campus. And once they arrive, it's critical to ensure programs are strong, faculty are well-developed, and a genuine effort is made to make all students feel welcome and included on campus to ensure they not only make it to college, but get through with a degree.
Follow Autumn A. Arnett on Twitter