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SAY IT AIN'T SO

Americans’ trust in universities often comes down to word choice

Reuters/Hannah McKay
By any other name...
  • Amy X. Wang
By Amy X. Wang

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Public opinion over colleges in the US—their quality, their exclusivity, their very purpose—is presently at a sharp divide.

But a new Gallup survey suggests many people don’t necessarily even know what they are arguing about.

It turns out Americans’ faith in colleges depends on the words used to describe them.

The full study offers more details on the effects of language on public perception. Democrats and Republicans, for instance, have differing confidence levels in colleges depending on how they’re described. But the irony of the education fight coming down, at least in part, to semantics cannot be understated.

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