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||Finding One: Illinois Residents Believe That Higher Education Is Vitally Important
For Success In The Contemporaty World.
In early 2000, Public Agenda surveyed 501 Illinois residents statewide to determine
their attitudes toward higher education. In addition, we held a focus group with
African-Americans parents in Chicago. In many ways, the attitudes of Illinois residents
regarding higher education are strikingly similar to the views of the nation as a whole, as
revealed in our broader survey of public attitudes, Great Expectations: How the Public
and Parents-White, African-American, and Hispanic-View Higher Education. Four
major conclusions emerged from our Illinois research, which are also supported by what
we found nationwide.
For the purpose of this research, we define higher education broadly to include all
education and training beyond high school, including two- and four-year, public and
private, for-profit and nonprofit institutions.
ILLINOIS RESIDENTS BELIEVE THAT HIGHER EDUCATION IS VITALLY IMPORTANT
FOR SUCCESS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD.
Most people in Illinois believe that a higher education is essential for a person to
succeed in today's world. In effect, Illinois residents now see a college education as
having replaced a high school diploma as the minimum entry ticket to a solid job and a
In the survey we found:
- Fully 88% strongly or somewhat agree that a college degree has become as
important as a high school diploma used to be.
- Only 17% think that it is possible to reach a point where too many people have
a college degree; the overwhelming majority (79%) believe that this is one area
where there can never be too much of a good thing.
As higher education is being seen as more important for success in today's economy
and society, the public is also placing a premium on the significance of preserving access
to higher education for anyone who is sufficiently qualified and motivated. In effect,
Illinois residents see access to higher education as equivalent to access to the American
dream. They believe that it is vitally important that we provide adequate opportunities for
higher education to all qualified and motivated individuals. Specifically, Illinois residents
do not want students to be excluded from a college education by cost alone. Seventy-five
percent strongly agree that we should not allow the price of a college education to keep
qualified and motivated students from going to college.
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© 2000 The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education