Liberal Indoctrination?


As the saying goes, “If you’re not liberal when you’re young, you have no heart. If you’re not conservative when you’re older, you have no brain.” At the same time, however, many accuse the American university of indoctrinating students in liberal values.

Well there might be something to this. According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a recent study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:

Found that people who had attained at least a bachelor’s degree were more likely than Americans whose formal education ended with a high-school diploma to take a liberal stance on certain controversial social issues. For example, 39 percent of people whose highest level of education was a bachelor’s degree supported same-sex marriage, compared with 25 percent with a high-school diploma. The trend continued with advanced degrees: About 46 percent of people with master’s degrees supported same-sex marriage, as did 43 percent of people with Ph.D.’s.

Many college-educated Americans still cannot correctly answer basic civics questions, however. The average college senior answered only 54 percent of questions on America’s history and institutions correctly.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute is a conservative institution and the implied conclusion here is that colleges make people liberal without making them informed about political issues.

Interesting. But what the study did not address, and what might be most interesting to discover, was whether college-educated Americans scored better on questions on America’s history and institutions than Americans who did not attend college.

Read the study here.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer