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Americans with a College Education Have a Better Quality of Life

Wednesday, March 5, 2014



  • More college graduates and those with some college reported a positive quality of life than those without college. 
  • A significantly higher percentage of college-educated respondents reported a good financial standard of living.
  • College-educated respondents credit an internship during college with helping them land their first job.


PITTSBURGH – Americans with a college degree or who attended some college report a better quality of life and a higher standard of living than those without a college education, according to results of a recent survey.

The Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media released results to a new national survey among 1,006 adults regarding the perceived value of college education today, willingness to study online, and awareness of differences between public and private institutions. 

Overall, the large majority of all Americans surveyed reported a very good or good quality of life (86.9%). Some described their quality of life as poor (9.5%) and very poor (1.4%).  Among college graduates (and those with some college), the percent describing a positive quality of life was somewhat higher (87.8%) than those without some college or a college degree (84.5%).

On standard of living, 72.3% indicated they had a very good or good financial standard of living. The difference was significant between college-educated respondents (75.5%) and those without any college background (63.6%).

While a majority of those who had attended college credited their degree with their quality of life and standards, those numbers were lower than might have been expected – 59.1% and 55.9% respectively. The poll did not ask respondents which college or university they had attended.

“Our results confirm what numerous other objective measures have proven: college graduates earn more and have a better quality of life than those without a college degree,” said Wendy Beckemeyer, vice president for enrollment at Robert Morris University.

“However, these results also show that colleges and university must constantly demonstrate the link between what students learn and experience in college, and what they achieve in the real world,” said Beckemeyer.

Given RMU’s own emphasis on engaged learning and professional experiences, Beckemeyer was happy to see that among college-educated respondents who had completed internship (17.8%) a strong majority credited it with helping them get their first job and launch a career (69.5%).

“RMU stresses for students the value they receive in terms of professional outcomes for the cost of their education, which is one reason we tout our 92 percent placement rate,” said Beckemeyer.

Among the poll’s other findings:

  • Just over one-third of all respondents, 34.4%, suggested they were aware of the “Net Price Calculator” which shows the sticker price of a college.  Those with a college education were more aware (37.0%) than those without a college background (27.4%).
  • Among college educated respondents, 17.8%, indicated they had an internship while in college.  Of this group, 69.5%, very or somewhat strongly credit that internship(s) with landing their first job / career out of college.
  • Over one-third, 38.0% noted they would be open to studying exclusively online.  The percent was significantly higher among those without a college background (42.0%) than those with a college background (36.5%).
  • In selecting a college, on a composite basis, the most important criteria (in declining order) were cost, the degrees/programs available, financial aid available, scholarships available, value, job prospects upon graduation and location.

ABOUT THE POLL: The Poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media.  Polling by the Institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events.

METHODOLOGY:  The Poll sampled opinions of 1006 approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide.  The survey was conducted February 15 – 21, 2014. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis. 

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. Learn more at


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