One-third of US adults who attended college were the first in their family to do so

July 27, 2017, 5:51 PM GMT+0

The vast majority of Americans, 84%, believe that the cost of tuition is too high

With the average cost of attendance at a private university totaling $33,480 per year, and public school prices for out-of-state students trailing only slightly behind, undergraduates are feeling the pressure of debt and strict scholarship requirements.

For first-generation college students, navigating the intricate world of FAFSA and loans can be even more daunting. Of American adults who attended college, YouGov found that a third were the first in their family to pursue higher education. Of individuals who specifically went to a four-year institution, 40% were the only person in their immediate family to study at a university.

Even with financial aid, the cost of college tuition can be prohibitive. The vast majority of Americans, 84%, agree that tuition prices are just too high. On the other hand, one in ten millennials feel that the cost of college is just right, in comparison to only 2% of those over of the age of 55.

Norms are also shifting in regards to college majors. 34% of those aged 55+ pursued a degree in business, compared to just 15% of millennials. For millennial college-goers, the most popular academic endeavors were the “soft sciences” (24%)—subject areas like psychology, sociology and political science. Only 12% of respondents over the age of 55 majored in the soft sciences.

While different generations of students may have opted to learn different things, the majority of respondents said that they went to college to learn (56%). However, nearly as many current and former university students, 54%, attended in order to land a well-paying job. This is perhaps unsurprising given that 46% of college-goers have, at some point in their life, felt pressured by their family to succeed career-wise. Despite moving away from the traditionally lucrative field of business, even more millennials, 62%, have experienced this sort of familial pressure.

Full survey results available here