The College Connection: The Education Divide in American Social and Community Life

Even as research continues to show that a college education offers a sound investment, more Americans are starting to doubt the efficacy of a higher education. Despite compelling evidence, scholars, public policy professionals, and legislators continue to debate the personal and societal benefits of higher education policy, with many casting doubt on the long-term value proposition. But a new report suggests that many of the conclusions that focus on the economic output are limited.

Today, college graduates have more close friends, are more likely to be married, and are less likely to feel lonely than those without higher education. College-educated Americans are also more likely to spend time in “third places” (bars, coffee shops, parks, etc.) and develop a more extensive network of acquaintances, activity partners, and place-based friends—offering a stronger social support system.

The college connection is evident in religious spaces as well. College graduates today are
far more likely to be involved in church or places of worship than their counterparts without a college degree.