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

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 a degree.

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.


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