Poll: Only 36% of Americans believe in higher education

by Renata

Renata Kiss, FISM News

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more and more Americans are rethinking the value of higher education. A recent Gallup poll reported that Americans’ confidence in higher education is at an all time low, while those who drop out of college are starting to become the norm.

The survey revealed that overall faith in college education has fallen from almost 60% in 2015 to a mere 36% this year. Less than 20% of those surveyed reported having a “great deal” of confidence in the education system.

These findings are a stark contrast compared to 2015, when the majority of Americans, on both political sides, were still confident in the higher-education system. But by 2018, both Republicans and Democrats were reporting a decline in their beliefs, with Republicans ranking the lowest.

Conservatives argue this is largely due to the many restrictions on free speech and overly progressive campus politics that took over in the last few years.

But Bankrate reports that about 39 million students dropped out of college during 2020, and less than a million returned the next fall when COVID restrictions began to soften.

There are many other possible reasons behind these statistics, one of them being the steep increase in college tuition. According to the Education Data Initiative, paying for a college degree today is 37 times higher than it was in 1963. 

Most students are now taking out a staggering amount of student loans, just so they can afford paying for degrees that often don’t result in salaries large enough to effectively repay the loan. In addition, college graduates from a third of American colleges are making less than those with only high school degrees. 

But it’s not just about the money. Employers are also slowly shifting away from requiring college degrees because they value experience more than just theoretical knowledge.

Jimmy Etheredge, CEO of Accenture North America said, “a person’s educational credentials are not the only indicators of success, so we advanced our approach to hiring to focus on skills, experiences and potential.” 

Meanwhile, Dell Technologies expanded its recruitment program to include students from community colleges as well. “We’re always looking for ways to bring broad and diverse perspectives into our workforce,” said Jennifer Newbill, director of emerging talent at Dell.

From a biblical perspective, Scripture also has a lot to say about the value of knowledge and wisdom, but it clearly warns against thinking like the world. Paul, in Romans 12:2, commands believers “not to conform to the pattern of this world.”

Regardless of political agendas and tuition rates, we’re called to cultivate a mind after God’s kingdom. And in the Lord’s kingdom, wisdom and knowledge begin with the fear of the Lord. Ultimately, it’s his word that’s meant to shape us, not the education systems around us.