Public Perception Of Higher Ed

Despite the popular narrative of recent years that a college degree might not be “worth it,” Americans still generally agree that a degree is important. But they might be likelier to pursue one if colleges were more flexible and – of course – less expensive.

That’s the impression left by a new survey by Gallup (on behalf of the Lumina Foundation), which asked 1,009 adults 18 and older what they think about the quality, accessibility and financing of American higher education.

While 38 percent of respondents without a college degree said they were likely to go back and get one, many struggle with obstacles like time and family that keep them from doing so. But they seemed to indicate that newer models (such as prior learning assessment and competency-based education) that place less weight on learning tied to a specific place and time could help more adults get back in the classroom.

“We’ve got to help them understand that their pathway does not have to follow a traditional model – that there are ways to get their traditional credential, faster,” Jamie Merisotis, Lumina's president, said in an interview. “When you think about the rapidly rising demand for talent that we have in American society…. our ability to deliver that, and deliver it in a way that people can get access to, is going to be really important.”

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