By a large majority, American adults believe that the primary role of a college education is to prepare undergraduate students for a career.  However, nearly two thirds also say that preparing adults for better jobs, preparing future leaders for our society and preparing students to be responsible citizens are very important roles of colleges and universities.  This according to the national poll conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education in conjunction with GDA Integrated Services.

The least important roles for colleges were playing athletics for the entertainment of the community, improving the image of the state in which the university is located, and promoting international understanding by encouraging students to study in other countries.

About six out of ten felt it very important that colleges and universities help elementary and high schools do a better job teaching children (63%), teach students to get along with people from different backgrounds (59%), teach students how to cope with a rapidly changing world (59%), help students develop good values and ethical positions (58%), prepare undergraduate students for graduate and professional school (57%), and discover more about the world through research (56%).

Observations and Recommendations

The American public has great expectations of colleges and universities.  Your institution can use these expectations to make your case to the public as well as important admissions, development, and other advancement audiences.  Answer the following questions with data and examples from your institution.  See that the news media, parents of prospective students, potential donors and public officials know your strength in these areas.

GDAIS through its experienced team of public relations professionals can provide assistance in putting the data in the Chronicle survey to work in helping your college achieve enrollment, development, and communications goals.

For more ways to take advantage of the Chronicle research, Email us.

Return to our Chronicle research analysis page, click here.