About two in three US adults thinks that both academic programs (68%) and career/occupational programs (67%) at two- and four-year colleges and universities do an excellent or pretty good job in educating their students, according to a Harris Poll conducted in July 2011. These results vary by gender, and more significantly by education level.
Women (71%) are 9% more likely than men (65%) to give two- and four-year colleges and universities a pretty good or excellent rating for academic programs, as well as for career/occupational programs (70% to 64%).
Furthermore, 81% of college graduates and 80% of post-graduates give pretty good or excellent ratings to academic programs. However, these figures drop 15% to 68% for those with some college and 25% for those with a high school degree or less (60%). Looking at ratings of career/occupational programs, those with less than a college education are slightly more likely to give pretty good or excellent ratings, while those with a college degree or more are about 9% less likely.
Positive Opinions of Colleges and Universities Lag Program Ratings
Despite generally high ratings of the academic and career programs offered by higher educational institutions, Americans’ overall opinions of colleges and universities are not that high. In total, 52% of Americans have a very or somewhat positive opinion of public colleges and universities. That figure drops to 48% for private, non-profit institutions and more significantly to 35% for private, for-profit institutions.
Those with a post-grad degree are almost twice as likely (78%) as those with a high school degree or less (40%) to have a positive opinion of both public colleges and universities and private, for-profit institutions (54% to 28%), and more than twice as likely to have a positive opinion of private, non-profit colleges and universities (76% to 35%).
More than Half See Value, Greed, in For-Profits
More than half of respondents (55%) say for-profit colleges/universities serve an important need by providing higher education to nontraditional students. However, a slightly higher figure (57%) say they do not care how many of their students graduate, only how many enroll and pay tuition.
In addition, 51% of respondents say the government should regulate college programs to help make sure that graduates can get jobs and repay college loans. Forty-two percent say public and not-for-profit colleges/universities do not care how many of their students graduate, only how many enroll and pay tuition, meaning respondents are 36% more likely to hold this negative opinion about for-profit institutions.
There is generally not a significant difference in response by educational level, except for the question regarding whether for-profit colleges/universities serve an important need by providing higher education to nontraditional students. Post-graduates (63%) are about 11 to 17% more likely to hold this opinion than those with lower levels of education.
Pew: Women Give Better Grades to Higher Ed
Women have a more positive view than men about the value higher education provides, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center survey released in August 2011. Half of all women who have graduated from a four-year college give the U.S. higher education system excellent (6%) or good (44%) marks for the value it provides given the money spent by students and their families; only 37% of male graduates agree (32% good).
About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 11 to 18, 2011 among 2,183 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.