Monday, April 28, 2003

Poll shows conflict on college admission policy

By Steve Giegerich
The Associated Press

A new poll highlights Americans' conflicted feelings about affirmative action at colleges: A majority of those surveyed said it benefits society, but even more said schools should not admit minorities who have lower grades than other qualified candidates.

The finding is part of a comprehensive survey of American attitudes toward colleges and universities being released today by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults ages 25 to 65 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

With the Supreme Court deciding a critical case that challenges the University of Michigan's use of race as a factor in admissions, 58 percent of respondents to the Chronicle poll said affirmative action programs benefit society.

But 64 percent said they thought minority students should not be admitted to a school if their grades and test scores didn't meet the level of other applicants.

University of Cincinnati freshman and Toledo native Alicia Abbott said she visited UC several times because of a program called Images of Color, which aims to attract minority students.

Among other findings, the survey revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans believe skyrocketing tuition has made higher education less affordable to the middle class.

At the same time, 75 percent believe a college education is "worth the price."

Miami University is planning to set one tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Officials say they will offset the doubling of the cost for in-state students by offering scholarships to Ohio students.

Overall, survey respondents gave the nation's colleges and universities high marks for credibility and effectiveness.

One problem, the survey found, is the importance placed on college sports. To 67 percent of those surveyed, sports are overemphasized.

Enquirer reporter Jane Prendergast contributed

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