College education makes you a liberal?

kainjow

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jun 15, 2000
7,745
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Saw this on Digg.

dailykos.com: Study proves college makes you liberal...
foxnews.com direct video: College Skews Political Spectrum

In the video they ask "how can we fix this?" which I find a little disturbing. If education leads to a certain political opinion, what's wrong? Isn't that good? The video makes it sound like college education is brainwashing students.

Personally, I experienced something like this. Went into college with conservative opinions and came out a liberal. I can remember really re-thinking things during my history class.

Have you experienced something like this, or the opposite?
 

Ttownbeast

macrumors 65816
May 10, 2009
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If that were true there would be no Conservative politicians holding office. Apparently the poll missed the fact that congress is filled with supposedly college educated representatives--unless you no longer need a degree to be a lawyer.
 

GfPQqmcRKUvP

macrumors 68040
Sep 29, 2005
3,211
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Terminus
I've certainly become more liberal since starting college. Not in fiscal matters, where I remain a conservative for lower taxes and low government spending (and extensive use of the free-market), but definitely in social issues. I consider that a good thing, not something that's bad. It's all about individual rights, and I now support the right of people to do whatever they want even if I disagree with it.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
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Isn't this pretty much the position of everyone :confused:?
Some people like higher government spending and what you can buy with it.

If that were true there would be no Conservative politicians holding office. Apparently the poll missed the fact that congress is filled with supposedly college educated representatives--unless you no longer need a degree to be a lawyer.
99% of blacks vote Democratic, yet the RNC is run by a black man. There are so few politicians that there being a trend of college graduates to become liberal isn't going to have a significant affect that way.
 

Queso

Suspended
Mar 4, 2006
11,832
7
Education opens the eyes to alternative ways of doing things, therefore tends to make people appreciate those who act differently rather than fearing them. Having higher education remove some of the small-town brainwashing we pick up as children is only a "problem" to those who believe conservatism has to trample over everyone else's beliefs and opinions in order to survive You can be a conservative whilst appreciating that others do not agree. Fox and Co. don't make money from acknowledging that idea though.
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
8,623
25
NYC
I grew up in a pretty liberal household, so college didn't sway me much further than I already was (and I went to a rather liberal college). My majors didn't allow for political ideas in the classroom, but certainly the emphasis on free thinking and being open to alternative ideas was a part of campus life, and I can see that influencing most students (at least socially) towards the left.
 

jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
16,864
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It depends on what kind of issues you are liberal on and which other issues your are conservative on.

And engineer might be conservative on environment, energy and building codes issues, but could care less (as in laissez faire, laissez passer) how something else might be conducted (say rules on a financial market).
 

abijnk

macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2007
3,286
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Los Angeles, CA
My views changed completely during college. I was very conservative going in (coming from the Bible Belt this shouldn't be surprising), but when I got away from the mindset of the small town I grew up in and started forming my own opinions about things they came out more closely aligned with the liberal view of things. However, I have always been strongly pragmatic, so I don't like to label myself with the current U.S. political parties, rather politicians and policies.

It's funny, too, because there are people who like to say that the professors are brainwashing students or the like, but I can literally count the number of professors and TAs that could legally vote in this country on one hand...

If college makes you liberal, I think money makes you conservative. Nothing instills fear of the redistribution of wealth more than having it.
I think this is very very true. In talking politics with an Aunt during the previous presidential election she said to me, "wait until you have money of your own," referring to how I view financial issues in my current financial state.

However, now that I make 6 figures it hasn't changed, so I guess like all things it just depends...
 

eawmp1

macrumors 601
Feb 19, 2008
4,130
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FL
Conversely, does being uneducated make you conservative?
Overgeneralizing with labels will get you in trouble every time.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,409
I was pretty non-political entering college. I left college a Republican and voted that way throughout the 80s. In the 90s, I voted Democratic sometimes as I was never a party whore. I started giving up on the Republicans when they tried to impeach Clinton. Bush pushed me over the edge and I now identify with the Dems. way more that the Reps. I will vote either party though.
 

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
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I was more liberal before going to college, the transition between relying on parents to provide shelter/food to relying on myself was a big part of that IMO.
 

Rt&Dzine

macrumors 6502a
Oct 8, 2008
736
5
I was more liberal before going to college, the transition between relying on parents to provide shelter/food to relying on myself was a big part of that IMO.
Similar for me. I was probably more liberal before college. But it wasn't anything to do with the education. It was dealing with real life that I had to give up some of my ideals. Not to say that I'm a conservative now. At least by U.S. standards.

I should add that I was also more of a libertarian before college.
 

eawmp1

macrumors 601
Feb 19, 2008
4,130
5
FL
I don't think the implication here is that education by itself makes you more liberal, but that the college environment might.
Oh, I understand the implication...colleges have been accused of being inhabited by liberals for decades...nothing new there. However, I doubt there is an active indoctrination going on. When one is exposed to others with diverity of backgrounds, experiences, thoughts, one tends to become more open-minded and thoughtful of others (sometimes branded as being liberal).
 

63dot

macrumors 603
Jun 12, 2006
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norcal
If that were true there would be no Conservative politicians holding office. Apparently the poll missed the fact that congress is filled with supposedly college educated representatives--unless you no longer need a degree to be a lawyer.
This is truly one of the most ridiculous comments to ever be put down here. Serious facepalm. I was thinking of the RNC example stated above (post #5), but somebody beat me to it. :)

Yes, college made me more liberal and everybody I knew well in those years.
Education has a much greater likelihood of making a person more tolerant of others. There is a reason for many 4 year degrees being heavily weighted in its first 2 years towards general education which tackles biology, anthropology, gender issues, and race relations. And for the first two years, I went to the only GOP leaning Cal state university, and finished up at a private, conservative institution once aligned with a christian church.

I do know some Republicans who have college degrees but they started out conservative, like my dorm roommate. I am yet to meet a person who came into college liberal and came out conservative. On the opposite end of the spectrum I knew many a liberal who finished high school then went into the military and came out more conservative after their time in service. It wasn't unusual to see a long haired rocker or deadhead enlisting and seeing them three or four years later with short hair, driving a tan car, and being a member of a conservative megachurch. While I have not seen that trend with college grads, I have seen many military folk end up with the Christian Right and I think the military was a pretty big influence.

The military, especially among the officer corps, was famous for their code of silence as to wearing their political affiliations on their sleeve. It wasn't until General Colin Powell, while still in uniform, let the public at large know he was a Republican. This shocked many military people, including my dad, but we both got Colin Powell's biography to see why he broke that code of silence.

And while we both vote Democrat, General Powell made a very convincing argument why he wore his politics on his sleeve and why it didn't hurt his job. Of course, some said by identifying his Republicanism at the time was setting himself up for a possible Presidential run. It wouldn't be the first time a 4 star general ran, but at least Ike kept his views to himself and only ran when he was practically forced to and never said he wanted the job of POTUS, or that he enjoyed it. I think Powell, with the backing of a large number of conservative military members and their families, would have had a chance at a run in 1992 or 1996.
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
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Oh, I understand the implication...colleges have been accused of being inhabited by liberals for decades...nothing new there. However, I doubt there is an active indoctrination going on. When one is exposed to others with diverity of backgrounds, experiences, thoughts, one tends to become more open-minded and thoughtful of others (sometimes branded as being liberal).
Exactly. One's world view in high school is heavily influenced by parents, family, close friends and teachers. As such, it tends to be somewhat myopic. Colleges are melting pots of people from many different countries, faiths, ethnicities and even languages. If as a college freshman, your roommate is from a different culture than you are, and you get along, you're more likely to view that culture favorably, despite what your parents, friends, teachers may have told you.

The word liberal has become so infused with political overtones that its true meaning has almost disappeared.
 

184550

Guest
May 8, 2008
1,978
2
I'm in my senior year at GMU and I've become slightly more conservative over the past four years.
 

imac/cheese

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2007
555
1
I came out of college as a conservative republican. It wasn't until I read the bible that I became what many would consider liberal.
 

63dot

macrumors 603
Jun 12, 2006
5,271
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norcal
And just because there is a trend doesn't mean that everyone follows it.
No trend is 100% percent, but it's one of the most common things I have seen in college students and their journey from a high school grad to college grad. I don't blame some if they think college is some sort of indoctrination or mild form of brainwashing.

Another trend I have seen which isn't 100% percent, but pretty darn close, (and one most here can relate to) is that when a person goes from PC to Mac, they prefer Macs. :)
 

killerrobot

macrumors 68020
Jun 7, 2007
2,218
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127.0.0.1
What I got from the video:

14,000 students took a civics test. 33% couldn't name the 3 branches of government. 18% couldn't tell a right guaranteed by the 1st amendment.
Then they were asked about their social views.

It would be really nice to see the actual survey/methodology that was used because from the video, I don't see any correlation, especially given the fact that 14,000 doesn't even cover half the size of a student body at any given state university.

Yes, college should open people's minds to new viewpoints. It should change their belief system (either reinforce it or alter it). It seemed like I was the only "liberal" on campus while working on my MA at a Jesuit University. My political viewpoints didn't change, and neither did those of the other students. During my undergrad at a public university, they were just as many right wingers as there were left. Sure some people changed their political ideologies, but most tended to just hang around people with the same outlook and never really questioned anything nor ventured to befriend others with different viewpoints.

EDIT: A more valid survey would ask how many students ate Mac & Cheese or Ramen Noodles. I think there's a more important, bigger Kraft conspiracy going on that nobody wants to acknowledge and the press is too scared to address. :D
 

63dot

macrumors 603
Jun 12, 2006
5,271
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norcal
EDIT: A more valid survey would ask how many students ate Mac & Cheese or Ramen Noodles. I think there's a more important, bigger Kraft conspiracy going on that nobody wants to acknowledge and the press is too scared to address. :D
Kraft conspiracy? Didn't Kraft buy Apple Inc?

It would be the only rational explanation why the iPad came out.:D