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1. Stability in Values
2. Growing Concerns
about Access
3. Attitudes about Social Class and Access
4. Older People Seeking Retraining
5. The Responsibility of Students
6. Necessary for Success
7. Holding the Line on Price Increases
Conclusion: Growing Importance of Higher Education
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  4. Older People Seeking Retraining

The public now thinks that older people returning to school for retraining are in a better position regarding access.

We have also tracked perceptions of opportunity for older people who are going back to school for retraining (see table 8). Here the picture is more positive. From the public's perspective, the situation of older people deteriorated somewhat between 1998 and 2000; in 1998, only 23% said older people have less opportunity to get a college education, compared to 37% in 2000. But the estimation of access for older workers has improved significantly in our most recent survey, dropping back to only 22% who say older people have less opportunity.

We cannot say for certain what accounts for this change, but there may be a number of reasons for it. On the one hand, with all of the unemployment and layoffs of the last few years, people may be more conscious of the opportunities for higher education that exist for nontraditional students. Many colleges and universities also have stepped up their advertising, which may have brought these programs to greater public awareness.

Table Eight


General Public

How about people who are older and are going back to school for retraining? Do they have less opportunity, more opportunity, or about the same opportunity as others to get a college education?




Less opportunity




More opportunity




About the same





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