Poll Shows Americans View Quality of Two- and Four-Year Colleges As Similar

Quick Takeaways:

  • Most Americans – 70 percent – rate the education received at four-year colleges as “excellent” or “good.”
  • Sixty-six percent rated the education received at two-year colleges to be “excellent” or “good.”
  • Regarding the quality of online education programs, about one in three of those polled rated the quality as “excellent” or “good.”

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

Americans rate the quality of a community college education at about equal to that received at a four-year institution, though they continue to consider an online education to be of lower quality, according to a recent poll by Gallup.

The poll was conducted June 2 - 7, 2015 among a random sample of 1,527 U.S. adults aged 18 or older. Gallup conducted the same poll in 2013, which showed similar sentiments towards the quality of two- and four-year institutions.

According to Gallup, 66 percent of those polled in 2015 rated the education offered by community colleges as “excellent” or “good,” up from 64 percent in 2013. Seventy-seven percent of 2015 respondents said that the education offered at four-year institutions was “excellent” or “good,” up slightly from 68 percent in 2013. Regarding the quality of online education programs, only 36 percent rated the quality as “excellent” or “good” in 2015, compared with 34 percent in 2013.

The poll also asked people with varying levels of education about the quality of four- and two-year schools and found among poll respondents with some level of postgraduate education in 2015 75 percent rated four-year institutions and 66 percent rated two-year schools as “excellent or good.” Other education groups rated the quality of two- and four-year educations similarly:

  • 71 percent and 77 percent, respectively, among college graduates;
  • 74 percent and 71 percent, respectively, among those with some college; and 
  • 61 percent and 63 percent, respectively, among those with high school or less.

When broken down by age group, 70 percent of the respondents between the age of 18 to 29 rated an education from a four-year institution as “excellent,” followed by 72 percent of those ages 30 to 49, 69 percent between age 50 to 64, and 65 percent 65-years-old or older. An education from a community college was rated as “excellent or good” by 58 percent of those between the ages of 18 to 29, 68 percent between the age of 30 to 49, 70 percent between the age of 50 to 64, and 71 percent 65-years-old or older.

The quality of online education was viewed as significantly lower among all education levels and age groups, with college graduates and those between the ages of 30 to 49 valuing it the highest at 40 percent and 39 percent, respectively. Among those with postgraduate education, only 27 percent rated it as “excellent or good” and it was rated as such by 37 percent and 38 percent of those with some college and high school or less. Among the various age groups, 36 percent those between these ages of 18 to 29 rated online education as excellent or good, followed by 37 percent of those between the ages of 50 to 64, and 32 percent of those 65-years-old or older.


Publication Date: 7/1/2015

You must be logged in to comment on this page.

Comments Disclaimer: NASFAA welcomes and encourages readers to comment and engage in respectful conversation about the content posted here. We value thoughtful, polite, and concise comments that reflect a variety of views. Comments are not moderated by NASFAA but are reviewed periodically by staff. Users should not expect real-time responses from NASFAA. To learn more, please view NASFAA’s complete Comments Policy.

Related Content

Blue Icon's First Year Marked by Expansion and Adaptation


Report on Student Parents’ Experiences Highlights Lack of Support in Higher Ed


View Desktop Version