May 6, 2019
What do Americans think about education after high school? What expectations do students have of colleges and universities? How do college administrators view their own industry? Researchers, journalists, and policymakers working on issues about educational opportunities after high school need access to data on these questions to have useful context for researching, writing, or crafting new policies about higher education. Public opinion surveys on higher education have helped answer these questions, trying to gauge public opinions on various issues from financing and funding college to student experience on campus. These surveys, if conducted well, also tell how different demographic groups can align or diverge in certain ways, allowing researchers to understand the issues objectively and comprehensively.
But if you have once tried to look for public opinion surveys on higher education, you will find that it is not the easiest task. There are many surveys out there on higher education, but to find the exact survey that discusses the subject you care about can take more time than expected. The task can be more challenging if you want to find multiple surveys on the same issues that have been conducted over time, since these surveys (if not conducted by the same organization) tend to be scattered in different sources. Not to mention the frustration that happens when you finally find the survey, but the link to the full version, especially the one conducted multiple years ago, is no longer available.
To help solve these problems, New America created the HigherEd Polling Dashboard,* an online repository of public opinion surveys on higher education. The dashboard currently has more than 70 public opinion surveys on higher education conducted since 2010, with new surveys expected to be added regularly. Surveys in the dashboard cover wide-ranging topics, from administrative to policy issues. Some target a specific population such as college students and administrators, apart from the general public. These surveys are all tagged with associated themes so that it is easier for users to find the survey they need.
Apart from a tagging system, surveys in the dashboard can also be filtered by published year, sample size, and demographics for more exact search results. On the dashboard, users can find the top findings of the survey, and also an active link to download the survey or to see the full survey online--so no more dealing with the frustration of dead links.
If you are someone who often refers to public opinion data, the dashboard is a helpful place to start your search. Visit newamerica.org/highered-polling to explore. Share, and bookmark the tool, as it will only get more comprehensive over time.
*This is by no means an exhaustive source of surveys on higher education. If you know of a survey that may be relevant, but has not been added to the dashboard, please send the survey to email@example.com.
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