Most Republicans Think College Is Bad for America

It doesn’t seem that long ago when most people’s version of the American Dream included sending their kids to college to ensure they had a secure future. Now it seems like a certain sect of the population is not so wild about the idea of college.

According to a new Pew poll, the majority of Republicans consider higher education to be bad for the country.

The stat is startling: 58 percent of Republicans and conservatives believe that colleges and universities have a “negative effect” on the United States. As a point of comparison, only 19 percent of Democrats and liberals feel the same way.

Conservatives haven’t always felt this hostile toward college – it’s a very recent phenomenon. In 2015, most Republicans said college has a “positive effect” on the U.S., with just 37 percent thinking poorly of higher learning. For that number to jump by over 20 percentage points in the span of two years is as amazing as it is disturbing.

How, in such a short timeframe, did we get to a point where the very institutions that keep our nation smart and competitiveáare reviled by one of the two major political parties?

Presumably, conservative Americans are taking their cues from GOP leaders and rightwing media that broadly label universities to be too liberal. By most measurements, academia does skew liberal. That said, it is an ongoing disagreement whether that is the result of a leftist conspiracy or just that intelligent people who research subjects extensively are more likely to reach a liberal perspective.

On top of that, conservative media has devoted a lot of airtime to portraying colleges as overly PC purveyors of “safe space.” As the Washington Post points out, internet searches for the term “safe spaces” were “basically nonexistent” back in 2015 before skyrocketing in the past two years.

Because of this coverage, a growing number of Republicans view colleges not as places of learning, but as facilities that breed “snowflakes,” whatever that means.

To be completely candid, there are a few ways that college does have a negative impact on Americans, not the least of which is the crippling loan debt students accrue. With college being so expensive these days, attending often isn’t about who performed the best in high school, but who comes from a rich enough familyáto afford the tuition. Oh, and then there’s the whole issue of for-profit colleges that rip off students and provide them no marketable skills.

However, if those are the kinds of reasons Republican voters have a bad impression of the service college provides, then they’re definitely supporting the wrong party. GOP lawmakers vote in such a way to increase the amount of debt students take on, not to mention cut state funding to local universities and community colleges, which makes tuition less affordable.

As for for-profit colleges, President Trump ran a fraudulent for-profit university and now his Education Department is rolling back rules Obama implemented to keep these institutions accountable to students.

The good news is that, disregarding political affiliations, just 36 percent of Americans has a negative opinion of college, placing the brunt of the animosity toward higher education on Republicans. Respect for college remains high overall, even if one party has soured on its contributions to the United States’s dominance.

Looking ahead, though, there is a real danger in the possibility of an entire half of the country’s political spectrum abandoning college because of this shifting view. How will America continue to lead in a world full of complicated issues if the very institutions that teach the critical thinking skills necessary to navigate these complexities are reviled?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

66 comments

Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE14 hours ago

Okay.

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Roberto M
Roberto M3 days ago

thanks for this interesting article

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maria r
maria r3 days ago

Thanks for share.

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Carl R
Carl R5 days ago

Thanks!!!!

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Clare O
Clare O5 days ago

So Americans may become less educated and more in debt. If they were better educated they would find ways of reducing that debt, like voting....

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Glennis W
Glennis W5 days ago

No wonder the country is becoming so stuffed up Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W5 days ago

Dumb mongerals Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W5 days ago

What crap They don't believe in anything Thank you for caring and sharing

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Ruth G
Ruth G5 days ago

No surprise there! the profit mad repubs want to keep the masses in ignorance so they cant fathom out how said repubs are enriching themselves at publics expense!

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Laura R
Laura R6 days ago

They can't work their agenda if we are educated.

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