Educator Calls Poll Results About College a Wake-Up Call

Most respondents don't consider a degree worth the cost
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2023 3:35 PM CDT
Poll Finds Most Don't Think a Degree Is Worth the Cost
Students gather outside Old Main on the Pennsylvania State University main campus in State College last month.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

They're not necessarily saying that having a college degree is a bad thing, but a majority questioned in new poll say it's not worth the cost. In a poll by the Wall Street Journal and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago, 42% of respondents agreed that a "four-year college education is worth the cost because people have a better chance to get a good job and earn more income over their lifetime." That share has been declining steadily; it was 49% in 2017 and 53% in 2013, the Hill reports. This time, just 42% said they believe in the financial value of a degree.

The most skeptical age group was those 18 to 34, per Reason Magazine; more than 60% don't consider a degree worth the price. The president of the American Council on Education called the poll results sobering and a wake-up call, per the Wall Street Journal. "We need to do a better job at storytelling," Ted Mitchell said, "but we need to improve our practice, that seems to me to be the only recipe I know of regaining public confidence." He said two of the biggest problems facing higher education are student debt, which has hit $1.7 trillion, and the graduation rate at four-year colleges, which is at 60%. (Read more college education stories.)

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