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Students walk near Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA on April 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
12:11 PM – Monday, July 8, 2024

According to a recent study, Americans are feeling more dubious about the benefits and expenses of college life, with the majority believing that the country’s higher education system is moving in the “wrong direction.”

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The poll results determined that only 36% of individuals say they have “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of confidence in higher education, according to a report that was revealed on Monday by the Lumina Foundation and Gallup. At a 57% confidence level in 2015, this number has gradually decreased.

“Some of the same opinions have been reflected in declining enrollment as colleges contend with the effects of the student debt crisis, concerns about the high cost of tuition, and political debates over how they teach about race and other topics,” CNN reported.

A dwindling perspective regarding whether or not college is worth the time and funds affects people of all ages, genders, and political affiliations. Over the past ten years, Republicans’ strong confidence in college education has decreased by 36 percentage points, a much greater decline than that of Democrats or independents. According to GOP analysts, conservatives frequently cite the overwhelming influence of left-wing propaganda taught in U.S. colleges as a contributing factor.

However, others highlight ineffective college curriculums and hefty tuition costs.

“It’s so expensive, and I don’t think colleges are teaching people what they need to get a job,” says Randy Hill, 59, a registered Republican in Connecticut and a driver for a car service. “You graduate out of college, you’re up to eyeballs in debt, you can’t get a job, then you can’t pay it off. What’s the point?”

Overall, only 36% of respondents had strong confidence in higher education, according to the June 2024 study.

According to experts, a decline in college graduates may make the workforce shortages in industries like information technology and healthcare worse. According to Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce, individuals who choose not to attend college earn 75% less on average in their career than those who acquire bachelor’s degrees.

“It is sad to see that confidence hasn’t grown at all,” said Courtney Brown, vice president at Lumina, an education-based nonprofit. “What’s shocking to me is that the people who have low or no confidence is actually increasing.”

In an attempt to ascertain the reason for the decline in confidence, this year’s survey included new, comprehensive questions.

Nearly one-third of respondents believe that college is “too expensive,” and 24% believe that students are not receiving the necessary instruction to succeed.

Though political opinions had a significant impact on the results, the study did not directly address the protests surrounding the war in Gaza that split many college campuses this year. Concerns over political bias, indoctrination, and the overly liberal nature of today’s colleges were expressed by respondents. Fourteen percent of those who lack confidence say it’s because of the institution’s political goals.

Just 31% of respondents believe college is headed in the right direction, while over two-thirds, or 67%, believe it is headed in the “wrong direction.”

According to Gallup, four-year colleges have historically been the first thing that comes to mind when individuals express trust in higher education. However, the survey discovered that more respondents are now more confident in two-year colleges and trade schools.

“It’s about saving money. That’s why I went to a two-year. It’s more bang for your buck,” says 22-year-old Freeman, a sociology major at Diablo Valley Community College.

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