Gallup’s Survey Says…

Gallup education

A couple weeks ago, we mentioned a recent poll by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation on what Americans want from higher education. Today, our own Marissa shares her thoughts. – Ed.

Is higher education still valuable? Should the current accrediting system change? Is tuition too expensive? The American general public seems to think so. According to Gallup*, an organization that creates quantitative surveys to track the attitude of the general public, Americans seem to have a lot to say about higher education.

Questions about the traditional method of counting credits based on the amount of hours spent in a classroom (and/or lab) and what is actually deserving of credit are also on our minds. With the advent of online courses, MOOCs and independent learning, the general public wants all of its hard work to count for something.

On top of all that, as tuition continues to rise at a rather alarming rate in this country, how can one not be concerned? Cost considerations definitely deter some Americans from starting their education, and even more from going back to school.

It’s pretty easy to agree with the majority of the 1,009 adults that were interviewed. Higher education, in one form or another, is still quite valuable; a quick glance at job postings will confirm that, as more and more ask for applicants to either already have a certain degree or to be in the process of acquiring one. All too often, the buck doesn’t stop there. Many of the higher positions require Master’s Degrees, Law Degrees, and/or Doctorates. Experience is also quite valuable (often requisite), but who can deny a certain level of frustration when every dream career at the World Bank or a non-profit, or even as a teacher (among countless others) requires costly, time-consuming continued education?

Online courses and MOOCs are definitely more convenient than traditional schooling for many in America and even around the world. I have even taken an online course myself (International Perspectives on Bilingual Ed @ American University), and am looking forward to using this venue as a way to learn again soon. Yet how do you decide credit when there are no literal classroom hours involved? Online courses from a particular university seem to be given the same amount of credit hours as if they were in a classroom. But what about those free MOOCs? And as  Nobel Prize winner Jane Addams once pondered,  who gets to decide what is good and meritorious?

From personal experience, I strongly agree that higher education (and lifelong learning) is both too expensive and, at the same time, quite valuable. I do hope that more MOOCs and other inexpensive cross-cultural experiences (i.e. online courses, & scholarships for study abroad) can find their way into accreditation, but I would also advocate getting the technology out there to those who generally don’t have access to it.  This would further help students, family members and professionals alike achieve, learn, and connect with others, in a way that’s maybe just a little less costly.

What about you? What do you think? Feel Free to comment below and let us know!

*This article is based on the full poll report, available from the Lumina Foundation. Gallup and Lumina collaborated on the poll.

Photo Credit: sciencesque via photopin CC BY NC SA 2.0

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