Most College Students Would Choose Community College with a Guaranteed $100K Job Over Free Harvard Education

If given the choice between Harvard University and community college, college students would rather go to community college if it guaranteed them a well-paying job after graduation.

While few students outright regret going to college, if they were to go back in time and redo their higher education experience, some would opt to attend schools that resulted in less student debt. Others would have embarked on behaviors that could have helped them earn a higher paying salary, including picking a different major.

To help combat the issue of student debt, which has reached an estimated $1.6 trillion, legislators at every level of government have presented plans. For President Donald Trump, reforming the cost of higher education would include making students better informed about the cost of their education in comparison to their potential earnings.

Many students dream of attending a prestigious school such as Harvard and few are given the opportunity to pursue a degree at the Massachusetts university. However, if given the choice between a full ride at the Ivy League institution and attending community college with a guaranteed six-figure salary job, students would forego attending Harvard.

A poll conducted by College Pulse, a survey and analytics platform, which was conducted in January but publicly released on Monday, asked students if they would prefer to attend Harvard on a full-ride scholarship or community college with a guaranteed job that pays $100,000 per year.

college student debt free tuition
The campus of Harvard Business School, July 26, 2016, in Boston. A recent poll found students would prefer to go to community college if it came with a guaranteed $100,000 job to a free ride at Harvard. Brooks Kraft/Corbis via Getty Images

Of the more than 22,000 students that were polled, 68 percent said they would rather have the guaranteed job and 32 percent would choose Harvard. While percentages fluctuated based on gender and whether students were athletes or had financial aid, the majority of students always selected the high paying job over the Ivy League degree.

When broken down by hometown, international students were the only group of students to select Harvard over the guaranteed job.

Students in the class of 2022 were 27 percent more likely to opt for community college if it meant a $100,000 salary after graduation than those who were in the class of 2016.

The majority of students weren't willing to sacrifice their college experience for a debt-free one, though. Sixty percent responded that they would rather have a fantastic experience and $35,000 worth of student debt than a terrible experience with no debt.

While students with financial aid were less likely to take the fantastic experience at the $35,000 price tag, it wasn't by much. Forty-one percent of students with financial aid said they'd take the debt-free terrible experience, compared to 36 percent of those who didn't have financial aid.