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Pew: Almost half of adults say the importance of a college degree has declined

Pew: Almost half of adults say the importance of a college degree has declined

Higher Ed Dive

Laura Spitalniak
June 5, 2024
Dive Brief:
  • Only a quarter of adults said having a four-year degree is a “very or extremely” important part of getting a well-paid job, according to new polling from the Pew Research Center.
  • Another 35% said a degree is somewhat important. But 40% of those surveyed rated it as “not too or not at all” important.
  • Respondents also indicated a decline in the perceived value of college, with 49% saying that a four-year degree is less important to get a well-paying job now than it was two decades ago. About a third, 32%, said it is now more important.
Dive Insight:
Discussion around the value of higher education is increasingly part of the zeitgeist, with prospective students expressing concern that a postsecondary education will leave them saddled with debt.
In a 2023 survey, 57% of 18- to 30-year-olds without a college diploma said that a four-year degree is a good or excellent value. That’s down slightly from 60% in 2022.
The latest polling from Pew shows even starker attitudes.
A little under half of those surveyed, 47%, said the cost of a four-year degree is worth it only if the student does not have to take out loans.
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