For Political Involvement, College Doesn’t Matter

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A new study shows that, beyond increased voting, going to college really has no impact on engagement in the political process.

According to an article by Caralee Adams in Ed Week:

The findings are part of the Enlightened Citizenship: How Civic Knowledge Trumps a College Degree in Promoting Active Civic Engagemen, the fifth annual National Civic Literacy Report by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization. This year’s report focuses on how well America’s colleges and universities are preparing graduates for lives of informed and responsible civic duty and answers the question: Is college capable of producing informed and engaged citizens?

The survey found college does not make a person more likely to: give money to a political campaign, try to influence how others vote, attend a political meeting or rally, work on a political campaign, contact a public official, sign a political petition, or submit a letter to the editor

I suspect that working in political consulting or lobbying, however, are the sorts of activities that tend to entail college degrees. But I guess that one needs another study.

That doesn’t really seem all that surprising. American citizenship comes from being born or naturalized in the United States. Some of those people graduated from college. Most of them, some 73 percent, didn’t. Some people are politically involved, some aren’t. That’s okay. I actually think it’s rather good to know that political involvement seems to be more or less equally divided between people with higher education credentials and those without.

So going to college doesn’t make one any more likely to contact a public official or sign a political petition. Well I would certainly hope not. Those are precisely the sort of activities that ought to involve all Americans, no matter their level of education.

Read the report here. [Image via]

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