The California public sees a higher education not as an entitlement, but as something
students should have to work for, and the notion of a free higher education is not
attractive to very many state residents. Seventy-one percent strongly or somewhat agree
that students only appreciate the value of an education when they have some personal
responsibility for paying what it costs.
By the same token, California residents feel that what a student gets out of a
college education is largely a result of the amount of effort the student puts in. We asked
our California respondents whether the benefits of a higher education depend more on
how much effort the student puts in or on the quality of the college. The overwhelming
majority (84%) said that effort was the key.
Californians also placed the responsibility for success in college on the student.
Seventy-four percent say that when a student falls behind, it is primarily the
responsibility of the student to get back on track. This does not mean that colleges have
no responsibility; 65% also agree that colleges should provide advisors and counselors
for students who fall behind, rather than take more severe measures.
When it comes to financial aid, Californians continue to emphasize individual
effort, believing that aid should go first to students who work hard. Eighty-two percent
say that they would prefer to give financial aid to a student with average skills who
works hard, rather than to a student with excellent skills who does not work hard.