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Writing for Boston Globe Class, Emerson Polling Team Up

The Writing for the Boston Globe class visit the Boston Globe
Students took a field trip to The Boston Globe as part of the Writing for The Boston Globe class.

The students in Emerson’s Writing for The Boston Globe course spent the semester working with Emerson College Polling to survey 6,000 New Englanders about their opinions on higher education.

The 12 members of Writing, Literature & Publishing Associate Professor and Interim Graduate Program Director Susanne Althoff’s class contributed to creating survey questions and analysis.

Four students penned accompanying articles, including Laurie Hilburn ’25, who wrote the cover article for April 12’s Boston Globe Magazine about whether the surveyed adults think if a college degree is still worth it.

Laurie Hillburn headshot
Laurie Hilburn ’25

Hilburn said Associate Professor and Emerson Polling Director Spencer Kimball and Director of Communications for Emerson Polling Camille Mumford gave a crash course in how to create a survey and craft polling questions.

“After discussing 100-plus question possibilities, then several rounds of condensing with Emerson Polling, we were able to narrow the survey to 25 questions and finalize those with Emerson Polling,” said Hilburn.

Survey questions were also reviewed by Boston Globe Magazine Editor Francis Storrs.

“The results are so interesting because, though the percentages are set, grounded by math, the stories behind them are malleable,” said Hilburn. “There are so many different ways and angles to approach the information.”

Hilburn said learning respondents’ personal stories and seeing why they are a part of certain datasets wove a complex web. Particularly as she was involved in almost every step.

Angelina Parrillo ’24

Angelina Parrillo ’24 wrote about why conservatives are turning against college, even in New England. She said it was surprising that only 39 percent of New Englanders think a four-year college is the best path a student can take immediately after high school. But again, it comes down to looking at the individuals.

“It’s understandably difficult to answer this question in an absolute way, as some people’s paths make them a better fit for college, trade school, etc.,” said Parrillo. “But as the political researchers I interviewed pointed out, a four-year degree has long been heralded as an idealistic thing. While this ideal doesn’t necessarily correlate with reality, I assumed it would impact the results more.” 

Read the full package of articles in the Boston Globe Magazine.

Check out the New England results on Emerson Polling’s website, as well as the full state results.

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