Most Americans say college is ‘not worth the cost’, in recent poll

Most Americans say college is ‘not worth the cost’, in recent poll
college professor

The ever-increasing cost of a college education is no longer worth it, according to poll results from a recent poll by the University of Chicago and the Wall Street Journal. Those polled have a historically low opinion of the value of a college degree, marking a “a new low in confidence in what has long been a hallmark of the American dream,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

As the Wall Street Journal notes:

The survey, conducted with NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan research organization, found that 56% of Americans think earning a four-year degree is a bad bet compared with 42% who retain faith in the credential.

Skepticism is strongest among people ages 18-34, and people with college degrees are among those whose opinions have soured the most, portending a profound shift for higher education in the years ahead.

A decade ago, only two in five respondents said college was “not worth the cost because people often graduate without specific job skills and with a large amount of debt to pay off.” But now, most respondents say it is not worth the cost. In this year’s poll, only 42 percent believe college is “worth the cost because people have a better chance to get a good job and earn more income over their lifetime.”

College lobbyists and academics disagreed about the causes of this cooling sentiment toward colleges.

“We need to do a better job at storytelling, but we need to improve our practice, that seems to me to be the only recipe I know of regaining public confidence,” said Ted Mitchell of the American Council on Education.

Bryan Caplan, an author and economist at Virginia’s George Mason University, said colleges’ left-wing ideology and unnecessary COVID shutdowns were partly to blame.

“Colleges have squandered a lot of good will by pushing a dogmatic left-wing religion,” says Professor Caplan. “Normal people don’t have sympathy for that sort of thing, they find it very off- putting.”

The Wall Street Journal described Caplan as saying that charging full tuition for online classes damaged colleges’ image, and the lack of in-person classes undermined “personal connections with professors” that “tended to smooth over any problems that might arise from the left-wing bias among faculty.”

The Wall Street Journal also quoted graduates who questioned the value of their degree and were unsure if they would advise their own kids to attend college.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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