Pennsylvanians 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 of a college education. The most important 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 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 Pennsylvanians, such as learning
to solve problems and think analytically (63%), learning specific expertise and knowledge
in the careers they have chosen (63%), learning high-tech skills (62%), and gaining
top-notch writing and speaking skills (57%).
The Pennsylvania public also has high expectations for the administrators who
run local colleges and universities. Sixty-eight percent say it is absolutely essential
for colleges to hire good teachers and researchers, and 60% 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
in college, not just the piece of paper. Fifty-two 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
The public has high expectations, but they also seem to be pleased with the job
Pennsylvania's public and private colleges and universities are doing, especially
as compared to the performance of the state's high schools. Fifty-six percent give
the state's colleges an excellent or a good rating, as opposed to only 39% who give
state high schools a good or excellent rating.