In 2015, The Institute along with its 13 higher education partners formed a polling program within the organization. The intent was to poll college and professional students on a variety of topics in order to better understand what our future leaders think is important, their perceptions of the region, and interests in civic engagement.
Overall, approximately 21 percent of students believe that the United States is headed in the right direction, while 39 percent believe the country is on the wrong course. Yet another 25 percent indicated feelings that the country’s direction is ultimately unchanged, while a final 15 percent are uncertain about the country’s direction. However, the margin between “right track” and “wrong track” answers has narrowed since last year’s survey, from a deficit of 31 percentage points to 18, as of 2018. Students’ perceptions of Pennsylvania’s direction, however, are considerably less certain, as nearly 43 percent did not register an opinion on the subject.
When evaluating job opportunities, students want to apply what they’ve learned and make a positive difference. When asked to rank six possible factors to consider when evaluating a job opportunity, students valued job opportunities in their desired field more than any other factor, just over 60 percent of respondents ranked this factor as of the most or the second most importance.
Students feel informed. Credit internet, TV, and their friends Just under 90 percent of students reported feeling “Very” or “Somewhat” informed on current events. Their primary sources for this information include website and blogs, television, social media, and word of mouth. While over 80 percent of respondents suggested they had some level of experience volunteering for an off-campus non-profit organization, less than 20 percent had volunteered for a political cause or candidate.
A majority of students believe that a graduate school education is very important in today’s economy, and most plan to attend graduate or professional school; the percentage of students who plan to go to graduate or professional school is highest among science/mathematics, healthcare, and humanities majors.