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
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.