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For freshman entering college, political polarization is at an all-time high: Poll

(AP Photo)

It goes without saying that the political divide between Democrats and Republicans has never been farther than it has been under President Trump. But now, it’s quantitatively reflected on our college campuses.

According to the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI), the results of the Fall 2016 National Norms of college freshman in the United States show that the entering class is the most politically polarized in the survey’s 51-year history.

“Fewer students than ever before (42.3%) categorize their political views as “middle of the road,” reflecting a general political polarization within this demographic,” the study read after surveying 137,456 first-time, full-time students entering college.

In addition to finding how polarized the entering freshman class was in 2016, they found that the 41.1 percent of women self-identify as “liberal” or “far-left,” which is another all-time high for the survey.

College freshman women espoused generally far more liberal views than college freshman men, where women were more likely than men to agree that the issue of climate change should be addressed by the federal government as a top priority (82.4 to 77.6 percent). Women were also more likely than men to want stricter gun control laws implemented (75.4 to 58.8 percent).

A Pew Research Center poll found that millennials get less stressed and frustrated about talking politics with people who have different opinions about Donald Trump. In the HERI survey, those numbers seem to hold up as a majority of entering college freshman say that they are able to see the world from someone else’s perspective (78.1 percent of women, 75.7 percent for men), can tolerate others with different beliefs (81.4 percent of women, 79 percent of men), are open to having their views challenged (63 percent of women, 67 percent of men), have the ability to discuss and negotiate controversial issues (67.9 percent of women, 75.1 percent of men), and have the ability to work cooperatively with diverse people (87.8 percent of women, 84.6 percent of men).

Of the major concerns that entering college freshman face with the rising cost of tuition, only about half (50.4 percent) of them believe there’s a “very good chance” of them getting a job during college to help pay for their expenses. In the previous year, only 46 percent of entering freshman said the same about getting a job during college.


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