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August 4, 2000

COLORADANS VIEW HIGHER EDUCATION
AS ESSENTIAL FOR SUCCESS


San Jose and New York - Coloradans believe that higher education is vitally important for success in today's high-paced world, according to a public opinion survey focusing on the views of Coloradans about education and training beyond high school.

The survey, prepared by Public Agenda and released today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, finds that a towering 85% of people in Colorado believe that "a college degree has become as important as a high school diploma used to be." And nearly three out of four of respondents (74%) think that there cannot be too many people with education and training beyond high school.

This strong agreement among Colorado residents about the importance of higher education mirrors the views of the nation at large, according to John Immerwahr, author of the report.

"The attitudes of Coloradans regarding higher education are strikingly similar to the views of the nation as a whole," writes Immerwahr, Senior Research Fellow at Public Agenda and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Villanova University. "Access to higher education has become equivalent to access to the American dream."

"There's been a ratcheting up of what's needed to succeed in this economy," said Patrick Callan, President of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. "People now see that education beyond high school is crucial for enabling people to navigate this new world."

Like Americans generally, Coloradans view the benefits of a college education as more than a degree. When presented with a list of goals for students in higher education, a high percentage of Coloradans (71%) selected gaining "a sense of maturity" and learning how to "manage on their own" as most important. A high percentage (66%) also said it is absolutely essential for students to learn how to get along with people different than themselves.

Other skills that were rated almost as highly-among Coloradans and the nation as a whole-include learning to solve problems and think analytically, learning specific knowledge in a career, learning high-tech skills, and gaining top-notch writing and speaking skills.

Funding for the survey and report, called Great Expectations: How Coloradans View Higher Education, was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The findings are based on a telephone survey of 501 randomly selected adults who reside in Colorado. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 4 percentage points.

This report complements a broader national telephone survey of 1,015 adults, the findings of which were released in May in Great Expectations: How the Public and Parents-White, African American and Hispanic-View Higher Education.

Both reports-the national and Colorado findings-are available at www.highereducation.org, and summaries are available at www.publicagenda.org.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, an independent, nonpartisan organization, promotes public policies that enhance Americans' opportunities for education and training beyond high school. Public Agenda is an independent, nonpartisan organization that regularly reports on public attitudes about major policy issues.


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