Americans value education but are divided on methods and cost

Ipsos finds opportunities and gaps in how America aligns its education system with the needs of its future workforce

The author(s)

  • Matt Carmichael Vice President, Editorial Strategy, North America
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Kate MacArthur Senior Writer, US
Get in touch

NEW YORK, August 2, 2021 – As students head back to class this fall, a new Ipsos study reveals that America’s education system faces multiple divisions that will impact how it prepares the workforce of the future. These differences could create deeper inequities and a less ready workforce in the future, according to Ipsos' Education issue of What the Future magazine.

Chief among these differences, Americans are divided on the role of and need for college degrees. While 83% of American adults overall agree that college is an investment in a child’s future, younger adults are less likely to agree (76%) than middle-aged adults (84%) and older adults (81%). Younger adults are also the least likely to say a college degree is worth the cost (52%) compared to middle-aged adults (60%) and older adults (58%).

Along with these insights, in this issue of What the Future, Ipsos asks education, futurism, technology and workforce development experts four major questions:

  • Lisa Gevelber, chief marketing officer, Americas Region at Google —Will employers embrace nontraditional credentials?
  • Rita J. King, co-founder, Science House —Do you need college to learn the most sought-after skill? 
  • Steven Wolfe Pereira, CEO and co-founder, Encantos —Did education lose a decade or gain a new path forward?
  • Cindy Cisneros, vice president of education programs, Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board —How should we fund and evolve the supply chain of the future workforce? 

The education issue also includes commentary from Ipsos researchers with solutions for brands to help them prepare for implications for potential education futures. These include student debt policy reform, how partisan gulfs in education policy may create readiness gaps for future workers, increasing credibility for e-learning, and diversity and inclusivity needs for companies to rebuild and expand equity in the workforce that was lost over the pandemic. The full issue is here. Below are research highlights followed by a topline of the survey results:

  • 81% of parents with a child in school rated their kids’ education highly before the pandemic compared to 59% after the pandemic. 55% of parents say they are worried that their child is falling behind in school due to the pandemic.
  • 76% of Americans agree that a college degree is a part of the American Dream. Yet younger adults are far less likely to agree (63%) than middle-aged adults (77%) or older adults (84%).
  • 94% of parents agree that technology is a valuable tool for education, yet 74% of parents in households of less than $75,000 say that their child has their own dedicated laptop, tablet or desktop computer at home. 91% of those in households with $75,000 to $100,000 agree and 82% of those in households with $100,000 to $150,000 agree.
  • 72% of working fathers compared to 42% of working mothers agree that they can afford childcare when their child has to stay home from school or daycare. 76% of working fathers compared to 56% of working mothers agree that they are able to effectively juggle their work and their child’s online learning.
  • 43% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats agree that their local public schools should teach according to a national curriculum. Meanwhile, 37% of Republicans and 86% of Democrats agree that public schools should teach that racism exists in our community institutions.

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between June 15-17, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 2,009 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents.

For full results, please refer to the following annotated questionnaire here:

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between June 15-17, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 2,009 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.

The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2018 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,009, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4.0 percentage points).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Matt Carmichael
Editor, What the Future and Vice President, Editorial Strategy
Ipsos North America
+1 312 218 7922
[email protected]

Mallory Newall
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

The author(s)

  • Matt Carmichael Vice President, Editorial Strategy, North America
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Kate MacArthur Senior Writer, US

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