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Young Americans’ View of Education

November 21, 2019

On-the-job experience is best at preparing people for success, according to young Americans surveyed for the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Higher Education Study.

The center conducted a nationwide poll from August to September, garnering responses from more than 1,300 Americans between the ages of 13 and 29.

The survey asked young people about their views of the education system from a variety of angles, including how it prepares them for success, how it handles mental health issues and what role affordability plays.

When asked what prepares one well for success, 73 percent of young people agreed that on-the-job experience does. About 60 percent agreed that a bachelor's degree is good preparation, and 45 percent agreed that a high school diploma is sufficient.

The poll also found that more affluent young Americans are more likely to plan to attend a four-year college compared to a two-year college, and they are also more likely to get parental assistance, both in paying for college and researching options.

Among all people who plan to attend or already attend a four-year college, 67 percent plan to take out a loan or have already done so. Across all ages, respondents agreed that affordability is an issue for higher education, and teens are especially worried about student loan debt. The majority also support forgiving student loan debt for less affluent households.

While most think that higher education is still a good investment, young people gave low scores to both high schools and colleges for addressing mental health needs and adequately dealing with sexual assault.


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