One-third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a Pew study. That’s a new high. Sixty-three percent have completed at least “some” college. And 90 percent have a high school diploma or GED.
With fewer job prospects, young adults are staying in school, Pew reports. In addition, many more people believe a college education is necessary to get ahead in life. In a 2010 Gallup poll, 75 percent said a college education is “very important,”up from 36 percent In 1978.
However, the U.S. higher education system is no longer the best in the world, according to a 2011 Pew survey of college presidents. ”College presidents are concerned about the quality, preparedness and study habits of today’s college students,” Pew reports. Fifty-two percent say college students today study less than their predecessors did a decade ago; just 7 percent say they study more.
High schools aren’t preparing students for college. Students don’t study as much as they used to. Faculty are grading too leniently. College presidents are concerned about academic quality, according to a Pew Research Center survey done in conjunction with The Chronicle of Higher Education
A majority of college presidents (58%) say public high school students arrive at college less well prepared than their counterparts of a decade ago; just 6% say they are better prepared. Also, 52% of presidents say college students today study less than their predecessors did a decade ago; just 7% say they study more.
Just over a quarter (27%) of college presidents say that the faculty at their own institution grades students too leniently. Only 1% says they grade students too stringently. The vast majority (73%) says students are graded about right.
President Obama wants the U.S. to lead the world in college graduates by 2020. But 64 percent of college presidents say it is unlikely that goal will be reached.
While half of college president say the mission of college is to help students grow intellectually, the other half college’s role is to provide skills, knowledge and training to help graduates succeed in the working world. Not surprisingly, community college and for-profit college presidents stress job preparation, while most presidents of four-year colleges and universities stress intellectual growth.