Do Americans Think College Is Worth It?

Last Updated May 20, 2011 7:37 PM EDT

Is college worth the price?

That's the question that the Pew Research Center, in conjunction with The Chronicle of HCloseup of lecture hall seatsigher Education, posed recently when it polled Americans on their opinions about college costs.

The answers the pollsters recorded, which are included in a report entitled, Is College Worth It?, were clearly a mixed bag.

The majority of Americans (57%) say that college fails to provide students with good value for their money and even more people (75%) think college is too expensive for most families. Despite that negativity, however, 94% of American parents said they expect their children to attend college.

Do Americans Think College Is Worth It?

Here are some of the more interesting findings from the report:

1. Only 22% of Americans believe that most people today can afford to pay for college, which is down from 39% a quarter of a century ago.

2. College approval ratings improve among those who have earned college degrees. Forty four percent of college graduates say the higher education system is doing an excellent or good job of providing value.

3. 93% of Americans with graduate-school experience say college was a good investment for them.

4. 55% of college graduates believe their education helped them prepare for a job or career.

5. Americans who graduate from four-year colleges believe they are making $20,000 a year more than high school graduates. High school graduates think that they are making $20,000 less than their college-educated peers. They are both right. The wage gap between high school and college graduates, according to the US Census Bureau is $19,550.

6. 48% of Americans believe students and their families should pay the largest share of college costs.

7. Two thirds of college graduates (69%) say their college education was very useful in helping them grow and mature.

8. 53% of parents, who believe their children will attend college, have started saving for that milestone.

9. Just 11% of parents say they are ahead of where they should be in saving for college while 46% say they haven't saved enough.

10. 42% of Americans believe a college education is extremely important to succeed in the world. Even more Americans (61%) think a work ethic is extremely important and 57% believe social skills are just as crucial.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.

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