New Study Finds that College is a Really Good Thing

Barry Lenson

New Study Finds that College is a Really Good Thing

college students“One Degree of Separation: How Young Americans who don’t Finish College See their Chances for Success,” a major new study from Public Agenda, contains some positive news about college. . .

Young people who attend college are more optimistic, happy, and likely to succeed than students who only complete high school.

The study is based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 611 26–34 year-olds. Here are some highlights . . .

  • Only 36 percent of high school graduates say it is “very likely” that they will be financially secure in their lifetimes. For young people with college degrees, things are different. Fifty-five percent fully expect to be financially stable.
  • Workers with college degrees earn more, and are less likely to be unemployed.
  • Seventy-two percent of high school graduates work in jobs that pay by the hour, compared with 33 percent of college graduates.
  • College graduates have an easier time understanding what employers expect from them, and are more likely to succeed in jobs.
  • More than a third of high school graduates surveyed - 36 percent - say they’ve had five or more employers since high school.  Only 11 percent of college grads have had that many employers since receiving their degrees.
  • College graduates have better knowledge of financial tools. Only 27 percent of high school grads understand what the FAFSA is, for example, compared with 68% of college graduates.

The study also found that high school graduates are more skeptical about the “motives” of colleges than in the past, and less likely to want to borrow money to attend college. But the overriding message of the report is that college does prepare young people to enjoy better lives. In a time when people are starting to doubt the traditional American dream of going to college, that is an important reality to keep in mind.

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