Higher-education experts at New America said this first survey was meant to set a baseline and doesn’t yet explain what was behind the results. But community colleges have gotten a lot of positive attention in recent years, including a growing movement by states to provide free tuition at two-year colleges and a push for more work-force preparation, said Amy Laitinen, director of higher education in the education-policy program at New America.
New America plans to make this an annual poll, with some questions being asked every year and others as a way to understand the reasons for peoples’ attitudes, said Rachel Fishman, a senior policy analyst there. The responses could help shape both public policy and how institutions operate, she said.
Of the response to the question of colleges’ conflicting interests, she said, "What exactly is going on that makes Americans answer this way?"