Illinois residents 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 selected
factor is that students gain a sense of maturity and learn how to manage on their own,
with 72% saying that this is absolutely essential. An almost equally high percentage
(70%) 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 are rated as absolutely essential by Illinois residents, such as learning to solve
problems and think analytically (64%), learning high-tech skills (64%), learning the
specific expertise and knowledge in the careers they have chosen (57%), and gaining
top-notch writing and speaking skills (57%).
The Illinois public also has high expectations for the administrators who run local
colleges and universities. For example, 69% say it is absolutely essential for colleges to
hire good teachers and researchers, and 56% stress that colleges should ensure that
students work hard to achieve high standards.
Although the state's residents have high expectations about what students need to
learn, they are divided about the degree to which employers reward credentials rather
than ability. Forty-seven percent believe that college graduates get higher salaries
because having a college degree means someone has skills and accomplishments, while
an equal percentage think that employers are just impressed by a degree.
The public has high expectations, but they also seem to be pleased with the job
Illinois public and private colleges and universities are doing, especially as compared to
the performance of the state's high schools. Fifty-seven percent give colleges in the state
an excellent or a good rating, as opposed to only 39% who give state high schools an
excellent or good rating.