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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are looking for a post-coronavirus overhaul at colleges and universities that would include reduced costs and better job placement for graduates, according to a report from think tank Populace.

Why it matters: Coronavirus threatens to upend how traditional four-year universities operate. Parents and students no longer feel like they can justify the large pricetags for a mostly online learning environment — no matter how prestigious the institution is.

Americans want universities and colleges to prioritize affordability, helping students to graduate debt-free and finding employment within nine months.

  • A majority of respondents said they didn't care as much about a university being considered "elite," having a competitive sports program or an active social scene.
  • Those surveyed said they'd prefer universities and colleges to adopt standard open enrollment practices for anyone with a high school diploma or GED.
  • Respondents said they'd like schools to prioritize more practical learning experiences through internships, hands-on-workshops and lab-based classes.
  • People are also more interested in flexibility so that students can choose non-degree pathways.

What they found: Of those surveyed, 67% believe American institutions put their own interests ahead of students or the greater good.

  • Americans are split over whether or not they believe the college admissions process is fair, but are overall open to the admissions system evolving.
  • Black Americans are less likely to believe the college admissions process is fair and are more willing to make SAT and ACT scores an optional part of admission than others.
  • The report provided no data for other communities of color view higher on the admissions process or test scores.

Yes, but: There is still a general consensus as 60% of Americans believe "most others" view a college education as necessary to achieve the "American Dream."

  • Only 33% believe a degree is needed to be part of the American middle class, and 27% believe a college degree isn't needed at all.

Methodology: Populace surveyed 2,750 U.S. residents from May 28-June 9, 2020, and was conducted alongside Gradient Metrics.

Go deeper

Harvard Youth Poll: 2020 young voter turnout could approach 2008 totals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A national poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School found historic interest among 18-to-29 year olds in the upcoming election, which could potentially lead to a massive voter turnout among age group.

Why it matters: With just over a week until Election Day, 63% of the poll's respondents indicated they will “definitely be voting,” which is the highest proportion of respondents in the twenty years the poll has been conducted. These young voters are motivated by a number of social issues.

2 hours ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

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