Survey finds drop in Americans’ confidence in higher education

Why has it dropped so low?

American colleges and universities have long been held as the elite. The bigger the school, the more elite things become. We long held that those in colleges and universities were worthy of respect just on the basis of prestige if nothing else.

Unfortunately, that seems to be slipping away.

According to a recept poll by Gallup, Americans’ confidence has slipped from 57% in 2015 to just 36% in 2023.

Moreover, people who responded that they had “very little” confidence in higher education–the lowest level of confidence respondents could give–soared from just 9% to 22% in that same span.

This raises the question, just why has it dropped so low?

The survey doesn’t ask, but for anyone following along at home, it’s not difficult to see what some of the reasons might be.

For one thing, it’s become clear that our colleges and universities are heavily biased.

The Washington Post reported that in 1990, a survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute found that 42% of professors identified as “liberal” or “far-left.” While that’s probably higher than you’d find in the general public, it’s still less than half. That number was 60% in 2014.

Meanwhile, those who identified as moderate dropped 13 points over the same period and those who identified as Republican dropped six points.

In other words, colleges have shifted left well beyond what society might be comfortable with and so society may have lost trust with them.

What’s more, we keep hearing from non-liberal students about how they may face punishment for not agreeing with the leftist dogma being pushed. For example, back in May, a student went viral after she got a zero on an assignment for using the term “biological women.”

People see that bias and it’s hard to trust that what people are learning in college is about the truth, how to think, or anything else other than leftist orthodoxy.

That’s certainly one possibility, but it’s not necessarily the whole picture.

Many people have watched as the students on college campuses have become downright intolerant of opposing ideologies. This is something our own Brad Polumbo got a first-hand view of when he debated the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles on trans rights.

It wasn’t enough for them to oppose Knowles and his views. They sought to silence the debate entirely.

This isn’t isolated, either.

Since 2015, which was the midway point Gallup used to show the shift in college confidence, we’ve seen multiple examples of people trying to silence opposition, including outright political violence at UC Berkeley because Milo Yiannapolis was scheduled to speak.

There are too many examples to cite, and what we rarely see is anyone being punished for this kind of behavior. It’s tolerated.

In at least one high-profile instance, it was seemingly enabled by a dean.

For a lot of people, this isn’t rational. This isn’t free speech. Sure, protesting is fine and most Americans support the right to voice your disagreement, but using the heckler’s veto doesn’t sit well with a lot of people.

Yet that’s still only one possibility. Another may rest in the student debt debate.

Now, some might not immediately think of that, but consider for a moment how it looks to a lot of ordinary Americans. They’re being told they need to help pay off student loans for college graduates, people with degrees that were supposed to help them find well-paying jobs.

Clearly, that plan didn’t work for a lot of people.

So now the rest of the general public hears they should have to help pay off those loans. It’s hard not to wonder just what the heck is going on at America’s colleges and universities. How can people have confidence in these institutions for higher learning when they’re not able to take care of the basic task of getting people educated enough for the workforce?

And these are just a few of the potential reasons for this degrading confidence.The truth is that pretty much all of the reasons fall on the institutions themselves. It’s hard to be confident in higher learning when higher learning is a trainwreck on multiple levels.

The only thing that’s really likely to change is if colleges stop pushing politics and start, you know, educating people.

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Tom Knighton
Tom Knighton
Tom Knighton is a Navy veteran, a former newspaperman, a novelist, and a lifetime shooter who has increasingly focused on Second Amendment issues. He lives with his family in Southwest Georgia.