What research says about attitudes about college

Texas has a “60 percent” postsecondary goal — much like the goal Idaho has struggled with since 2010.

But one obstacle facing all states might be skepticism about the value of a college education.

The Houston Chronicle last week published a rundown of recent surveys quantifying public attitudes about higher education:

  • Fifty-seven percent of 18- to 24-year-olds do not believe college is worth the cost, according to an August Wall Street Journal-NBC survey. In 2013, that number was 40 percent.
  • Fifty-four percent of white Americans considered going to college a “risky gamble,” according to a survey conducted in May by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic.
  • According to Rice University research, Black and Hispanic students were more likely to see the value of college, and President Trump voters were more likely than Hillary Clinton voters to believe adults can succeed in today’s economy with only a high school diploma.
  • Fifty-eight percent of Republicans and conservative-leaning voters believe higher education has a negative impact on the country, according to Pew research in 2017. A year earlier, this number was 45 percent.

Texas wants 60 percent of its 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a college degree by 2030. Idaho’s goal is somewhat more flexible; the state wants 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds to obtain a degree or professional certificate. But Idaho has made little progress toward its 60 percent milestone, and a gubernatorial task force moved back Idaho’s target date from 2020 to 2025.

More reading: Click here to begin reading “Life After High School: Options And Outcomes For Idaho Graduates,” a four-day series examining Idaho’s elusive 60 percent goal.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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