A college degree is central to most people’s conception of the “American Dream,” but the dearth of good jobs resulting from the economic downturn has people re-evaluating exactly what a college degree looks like.
The Associated Press and Stanford University teamed up to poll over 1,000 adults nationwide; the poll measured their opinions of educational quality in four-year colleges and universities versus community colleges and technical schools.
The vast majority of those polled, nearly 70%, said that many community colleges offer an education as good as one from a four-year school. The majority of respondents also noted that it’s “sometimes better for students to pursue a diploma or certificate from a two-year school than aim to enter a four-year college.”
Larry Wyse, one of the adults interviewed for the survey, said that the traditional mindset that “every student should attend a four-year college,” is frustrating. Wyse, who holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, chose instead to pursue a technical trade and has run a heating repair and plumping business for almost 30 years.
Says Wyse, “not every student who graduates from high school has the capability or the financial means or the intestinal fortitude that it takes to complete a four-year degree. There are a lot of skilled trade and technical service type jobs that are begging for applicants.”
The results of the AP and Stanford poll appear to reiterate this sentiment as more Americans are choosing community colleges, trade schools, or online universities to earn a certificate or degree in a specialized field of study or trade.
When asked if college degrees prepare students for the workforce, 62% of respondents answered “yes” for community colleges while 68% responded affirmatively on behalf of four-year schools.
The close proximity of these figures is telling and supports the rise in popularity, prominence and educational equality of community colleges, trade schools, and online universities versus their four-year, traditional counterparts.