NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Shifting Perceptions On Need For College

May 4, 2000

Seven years ago, most Americans believed that too many people were going to college. Now, three out of four think the country cannot have too many college grads.

According to a study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education:

  • More than 60 percent of parents of high school students view a college education as "absolutely essential" for their children.
  • When asked to choose the single factor that most determines success, 67 percent of Hispanic parents and 45 percent of black parents picked a college education -- compared to 32 percent of non-Hispanic white parents and 35 percent of parents over all.
  • Yet only 20 percent of Hispanics ages 18 to 24, and 30 percent of blacks in the same age group, are enrolled in college -- compared to 37 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
  • Twice as many parents want their children to emerge from college with computer and job-related skills as do those who want their children having "exposure to great writers and thinkers."

While 71 percent think that paying for college is more difficult today than it was a decade ago, an overwhelming 93 percent of parents are confident they will find a way to work out the cost of higher education.

Source: Jodi Wilgoren, "Study Finds Most in U.S. See College Education as Essential," New York Times, May 4, 2000.


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