A majority of Americans do not believe that a college education is worth the hefty cost, according to a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll published Friday.
Approximately 56% of Americans said that attending college is not worth the cost compared to 42% who said that it was, according to the poll results published by the Wall Street Journal. Democrats, college degree earners and those who make more than $100,000 per year were more likely to defend obtaining a four-year college degree while people between the ages of 18 and 34 were more likely to express skepticism. (RELATED: Americans Still Agree Race Should Not Be Factored Into College Admission: POLL)
“These findings are indeed sobering for all of us in higher education, and in some ways, a wake-up call,” Ted Mitchell, American Council on Education president, told the WSJ. “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.”
Of respondents who earned a college degree, 42% said that it is not worth the cost, according to the WSJ. This number is 10% higher than was reported by the demographic during two polls in the last decade.
The percentage of Americans who dismiss the worth of a college degree has been widening since 2013, when 53% of respondents said that college was worth the cost, according to the WSJ. This number shrunk to 49% in 2017.
Mitchell told the WSJ that student debt could be a contributing factor to the shift in Americans’ view. He also cited a 60% college graduation rate as another factor.
College enrollment has not recovered since before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research from the National Student Clearinghouse. There were 1.1 million fewer students enrolled during the fall 2022 semester than were counted in fall 2019.
“Pandemic-era mandates proved that colleges are often authoritarian, irrational, and not any fun, so many high school students chose to delay college or chose other paths,” Adam Kissel, visiting fellow on higher education reform at the Heritage Foundation, previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “That’s a main reason we saw a larger dip in recent years and some recovery this academic year.”
The survey was conducted in partnership with the NORC at the University of Chicago, an independent research institute. It was conducted between March 1-13 and polled 1,019 people through a primarily online format, according to the WSJ.
The poll has a plus or minus 4.1% margin of error, the WSJ reported.
NORC at the University of Chicago did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. The American Council on Education referred the DCNF to the WJS article.
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