IN overall performance, colleges and universities in the United States rate passing grades of B's or C's from most American adults. Younger citizens, between the ages of 18 and 29, tend to award the institutions higher marks. But only 6 percent of those responding to a Gallup poll conducted in July and released today handed out A's. A high 74 percent of those surveyed regard a college education as a good investment - in the long run worth more or equal to what was paid out to get it. Again, the highest grades came from the youngest Americans. The survey was conducted for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. CASE president Gary Quehl insists that checking in on the American public's view of quality in higher education can provide valuable clues as to what most needs attention.
Some half or more of those queried in the poll gave A's and B's to colleges in conducting scientific research and in providing an equal opportunity for all Americans to succeed. However, the majority awarded colleges a C on preparing students to be productive in the work force.
The institutions similarly rated a C from the majority on their efforts to produce quality teachers for the future. And more gave colleges C's, rather than A's or B's, on the opportunities colleges offer students to explore their own values and develop into good citizens.
Despite many college programs aimed to improve the access of minorities to higher education, the public is divided on how well colleges do. Almost two-thirds of the nonwhites in the poll said one's race makes it harder to get access to a college education; they say working with students at the elementary and secondary school levels is the best way to remedy the problem. Most whites said race made little difference in gaining access to higher education but that working with parents and the community can help improve minority access.