College remains a near universal aspiration in this country, even in the face of steeply rising costs. Among parents of a child ages 17 or younger, 94% say they expect their child (or children) to attend college, according to a survey conducted March 15-29, 2011.
About three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed agreed that it is necessary for a woman to have a college education to get ahead in life; 68% said the same about men.
But while Americans place considerable stock in the value of college, they see character traits, not education, as the most important determinants of success in life. Nearly all (96%) people say a good work ethic is extremely or very important; 93% say the same about knowing how to get along with people and 90% say the same about work skills learned on the job. Just 77% of people say that a college education is extremely or very important.
Even with the steady rise in college enrollment levels over the last few decades, the majority of young adults in this country do not attend a four-year college. The main reasons are financial. Among survey respondents (ages 18 to 34) who do not have a bachelor’s degree and are not currently enrolled in school, fully two-thirds cite supporting their family as a major reason for not continuing their education. Some 57% of this group say they would rather work and make money, and 48% say they can’t afford a college education. One-third (34%) say they didn’t need more education, and just 5% say they didn’t continue their education because they weren’t accepted at their school of choice. Read More