Public continues to strongly view community colleges


A new report shows that Americans continue to have more confidence in community colleges than in four-year institutions, most likely due to the cost and value associated with public two-year colleges.

About half of Americans (48%) say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in community colleges, compared to one-third (33%) reporting the same level of confidence with four-year colleges and universities, according to the report by Gallup and Lumina Foundation that is based on a survey last month of 2,180 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The analysis is part of a broader report on Americans’ confidence in higher education institutions.

Following similar findings of other surveys over the years, the report shows that Republicans are far less likely than Democrats and independents to say they have strong confidence in community colleges and four-year institutions. However, all three affiliations see two-year colleges more positively than four-year colleges. Among Republicans, 36% of respondents indicated they are confident in community colleges, compared to a 15% rating for four-year schools. Independents had more confidence in both, and more than two-thirds (67%) of Democrats said they had great confidence in community colleges with 58% of them feeling the same about four-year institutions.

The survey also gauged attitudes based on race, with both Whites and people of color having similar views of community colleges (48% and 50%, respectively, gave community colleges high marks). However, a larger percentage of people of color gave high marks to four-year schools than White participants (39% vs. 30%).

The study notes that Americans express greater confidence in community colleges than in four-year colleges and universities on each of seven aspects of higher education, including affordability, quality and the student experience. When it comes to their view of providing an affordable education, 58% of surveyed participants gave community colleges high marks, compared to 11% for four-year institutions.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.
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