Finding One
Finding Two
Finding Three
Finding Four
Colorado and the Nation at Large
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Finding Two: Higher Education is More Than Just a Piece of Paper

Coloradans have high expectations for what they expect students to take away from a college education. We presented our respondents with a list of factors and asked how important each was as a goal for a college education. The most commonly mentioned factor is that students gain a sense of maturity and learn how to manage on their own, with 71% saying that this is absolutely essential. A high percentage (66%) also say that they think 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 are rated as absolutely essential by Coloradans, 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 (58%), and gaining top-notch writing and speaking skills (56%).

The Colorado public also has high expectations for the administrators who run local colleges and universities. Seventy percent say it is absolutely essential for colleges to hire good teachers and researchers, and 59% stress that colleges should ensure that students work hard to achieve high academic standards.

A majority of people in the state value the education that a student receives, not just the piece of paper. Fifty-three percent believe that college graduates get higher salaries because having a college degree means someone has skills and accomplishments, as opposed to 43% 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 Colorado’s public and private colleges and universities are doing, especially as compared to the performance of the state’s high schools. Fifty-two percent give the state’s public and private colleges an excellent or a good rating, as opposed to only 30% who give high schools an excellent or good rating.


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