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Students Equate High College Tuitions With High Quality

October 10, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ A poll has found that the ″Chivas Regal Syndrome,″ the belief that high tuition means superior education, is widespread among young people, but that nearly half said tuition costs block many from college.

A survey of student attitudes marking National Higher Education Week, Oct. 9-15, found that 38 percent agreed that ″the higher the tuition costs of a college, the better the quality of education a student will receive.″

Among pre-college-age students, the figures were higher: 53 percent of 13-15 year-olds felt that way; 41 percent of 16 and 17-year-olds surveyed agreed. But among current college students and recent graduates, 27 percent agreed.

College officials have lately dubbed that belief the ″Chivas Regal Syndrome,″ after the premium Scotch whisky, as an explanation for why Ivy League and other expensive colleges continue to attract so many applicants. Students and parents seem ready to pay almost any price for what they believe is a quality education.

The poll was commissioned by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and conducted Aug. 24 to Sept. 7 by the Gallup Organization. It was based on telephone interviews of persons ages 13-21 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points.

Asked what they thought was the major reason more students do not go to college, 48 percent said they thought the reason was that college is too expensive and they can’t afford it.

Fifty-nine percent of high school juniors and seniors polled said they or someone in their families had saved for college education. The rest said they hadn’t or didn’t know.

Asked what they’d do if they couldn’t afford the college they wanted, 37 percent said they’d try to get loans, 32 percent would look for part-time jobs, 14 percent said they would select another college, and 2 percent said they would not attend college. The rest weren’t sure.

Other findings:

- 54 percent of America’s high school juniors and seniors said they expect to graduate from college; 8 percent plan to graduate from high school but go no further. The remainder said they plan to attend vocational or trade school, or go to college but not long enough to graduate.

- 67 percent said that in selecting a college, availability of particular courses and curriculum was ″extremely important;″ 44 percent cited the school’s academic reputation, 45 percent said college expenses were a crucial factor.

Only 20 percent cited social life or athletic reputation as ″extremely important.″

- Seven of 10 believe public colleges offer as good an education as private schools, and three out of five felt two-year institutions are on a par with four-year schools.

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