Finding One
Finding Two
Finding Three
Finding Four
Changes in Attitudes Over Time
California and the Nation at Large
Supporting Tables
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Finding Two: Higher Education is More Than Just a Piece of Paper

Californians have high expectations for what they expect students to take away from a college education. We presented respondents with a list of factors and asked how important each was as a goal for a college education. One of the most important factors for California residents is that students gain a sense of maturity and learn how to manage on their own, with 69% saying that this is absolutely essential. An equally high percentage (69%) say that it is absolutely essential for students to learn how to get along with people different from themselves.

Although these general interpersonal skills top the list, there are a number of other skills that Californians rate as absolutely essential, such as learning to solve problems and think analytically (65%), learning high-tech skills (60%), learning the specific expertise and knowledge in the careers they have chosen (56%), and gaining top-notch writing and speaking skills (59%).

The California public also has high expectations for the administrators who run local colleges and universities. For example, 68% say it is absolutely essential for colleges to hire good teachers and researchers, and 54% stress that colleges should ensure that students work hard to achieve high academic standards.

The majority of people in the state value the education that a student receives, not just the piece of paper. Fifty-eight percent believe that college graduates get higher salaries because having a college degree means that the person has skills and accomplishments, as opposed to 37% who think that employers just get impressed by a degree.

The public has high expectations, but they also seem to be pleased with the job California’s public and private colleges and universities are doing, especially as compared to the performance of the state’s high schools. Fifty-seven percent give the state’s colleges an excellent or a good rating, as opposed to only 26% who give state high schools an excellent or good rating.


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