University, college or higher ed. Which one do you trust?

University students discussing the term trust

The study suggests it is possible that the terms “colleges and universities” have more negative connotations compared to “higher education” because media stories.

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When describing higher education the name makes a difference. A recent Gallup poll revealed which educational term evokes the most confidence in Americans. Is it college, university or the not so used higher education?

Usually, people refer to higher education as college, university, post-secondary education or just as higher education. Some of those words might represent the same thing, although Americans have more confidence in certain words. Gallup study revealed 36% of Americans have a great deal of confidence in "higher education" compared to 23% who have confidence in "colleges and universities."

Gallup stats on higher education terms

The study suggests it is possible that the terms “colleges and universities” have more negative connotations compared to “higher education” because media stories always refer to this educational level, for better or worse, as college or university, and they almost never use the term higher education.

Also, opinions change depending on political party identification. Democrats are positive about both terms, although they have more confidence in higher education than in colleges and universities. On the other hand, Republicans feel equal about those three terms. The community colleges term enjoys support from both political parties.

From now on educational institutes should consider how to call and sell themselves. It seems higher education is the safest bet.