About the Study
One Degree of Separation is based on telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 611 26–34 year-olds who have, at a minimum, graduated from high school. Interviews were conducted by Princeton Survey Research International, in English and Spanish, from December 20, 2010, to January 25, 2011. The questionnaire was designed by Public Agenda. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±4.5 percentage points. However, it is higher when comparing subgroups or question items that weren’t asked of all respondents. The survey was preceded by focus groups in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Washington, D.C., in September 2010.
Survey respondents in this sample are divided into two groups, “high school graduates” and “college graduates.” High school graduates include respondents who graduated high school (or have a GED) and never pursued any higher education (23 percent of the sample) and respondents who had some higher education experience but left the program without receiving any credential, diploma, or degree (23 percent of the sample). College graduates include those who have a bachelor’s degree (30 percent) and those who have a graduate degree (12 percent), as well as those who have an associate’s degree (7 percent) and anyone who said their highest degree was a technical certificate or other credential (6 percent).
Compared to young people with degrees, high school graduates are less confident about their financial prospects and much less likely to be on a solid career path.
Despite their worries about the future and mixed experiences with jobs, most high school graduates believe there are still ways to succeed at work without additional education.
High school graduates are less likely to say it's a good idea to borrow money to go to college.
High school graduates are more skeptical about the motives of higher education institutions than college graduates.
High school graduates have gaps in knowledge that could undercut their own ability to get a college degree in the future.
Implications and questions
Download the PDF