What’s College Good For?

Barely more than half of all college students graduate within 6 years with a bachelor’s degree. Most of the rest never graduate. Imagine going to school for 6 + years and never graduating. Imagine the debt you can build up, and the mounting sense of personal failure you will have stashed away in the back of your brain alongside all that debt.

Just Over Half of College Students Graduate Within 6 Years

Without the degree, almost all of the monetary benefits of a college education slip away. And if most students eventually drag themselves across the finish line, a significant number will never be able to pay off the debt.

Most of the salary payoff for college comes from crossing the graduation finish line. Suppose you drop out after a year. You’ll receive a salary bump compared with someone who’s attended no college, but it won’t be anywhere near 25 percent of the salary premium you’d get for a four-year degree. Similarly, the premium for sophomore year is nowhere near 50 percent of the return on a bachelor’s degree, and the premium for junior year is nowhere near 75 percent of that return. Indeed, in the average study, senior year of college brings more than twice the pay increase of freshman, sophomore, and junior years combined. Unless colleges delay job training until the very end, signaling is practically the only explanation. This in turn implies a mountain of wasted resources—time and money that would be better spent preparing students for the jobs they’re likely to do. __ https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/whats-college-good-for/546590/

Most young people could easily learn the important things to get a good job and to be well educated outside of college — without acquiring up to half a million dollars in debt, and without losing all those prime years undergoing a tedious indoctrination in worthless ideology.

Should Everyone Go to College?

It’s time to ditch the college-for-all crusade. Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, it’s doing more harm than good… we’ve overdone the college obsession. It’s become the be-all and end-all of K-12 schooling. If you don’t go to college, you’ve failed, even though about 70 percent of jobs require no more than a high school diploma. But public policy has been to send more and more students to college — resulting in three bad consequences.

First, we’ve dumbed down college. Even with lower requirements, dropout rates at four-year schools approach 40 percent of freshmen. And many graduates don’t learn much. One study found after four years, about a third of students hadn’t improved their analytical skills.

Second, the college-prep track in high schools marginalizes millions of students who feel disconnected from that singular focus. School bores them.

Finally, we’re not preparing these students for productive lives. If they’re not interested in chemistry and English lit, we still need to motivate them. We need, says economist Robert Lerman, to create a different route to a rewarding career… __ Robert J. Samuelson

It has been empirically demonstrated that doing well (B average or better) in a traditional college major in the arts and sciences requires levels of linguistic and logical/mathematical ability that only 10 to 15 percent of the nation’s youth possess. That doesn’t mean that only 10 to 15 percent should get more than a high-school education. It does mean that the four-year residential program leading to a B.A. is the wrong model for a large majority of young people. __ Charles Murray

“For whom is college attendance socially beneficial?” My answer: no more than 5 percent of high-school graduates, because college is mostly what economists call a “signaling game.” Most college courses teach few useful job skills; their main function is to signal to employers that students are smart, hard-working, and conformist. The upshot: Going to college is a lot like standing up at a concert to see better. Selfishly speaking, it works, but from a social point of view, we shouldn’t encourage it. __ Bryan Caplan

We now send 70 percent of high-school graduates to college, up from 40 percent in 1970. At the same time, employers are accelerating their offshoring, part-timing, and temping of as many white-collar jobs as possible. That results in ever more unemployed and underemployed B.A.’s… And you and I have a hard time getting a reliable plumber even if we’re willing to pay $80 an hour—more than many professors make. __ Marty Nemko

My own research shows that there generally is a negative relationship between state support for higher education and economic growth. Sending marginal students to four-year degree programs, only to drop out, is a waste of human and financial resources, and lowers the quality of life for those involved. __ Richard K. Vedder

____ Are Too Many Students Going to College?

Take the Infographic Below With a Grain of Salt

Should Everyone Go to College?

The economic numbers in the topmost graph of the infographic are averages. Those averages are skewed by the smart fraction of college graduates who major in STEM subjects and other rigorous fields, where most college students would fail. When deciding whether everyone should go to college, we should not look at such conflated averages, which conceal more than they reveal.

Many smart students can indeed earn a lot more money with college credentials than they would have without them. At the same time, consider the many college dropouts who went on to become immensely wealthy. The point is that smart people who are motivated and have skills can do much better than smart people who merely rest on their academic laurels.

For far too many, college is a place where young people go to binge, fornicate, receive a world class indoctrination, and go deeply into debt.

today’s college students are less willing than those of previous generations to do the bare minimum of showing up for class and temporarily learning whatever’s on the test. Fifty years ago, college was a full-time job. The typical student spent 40 hours a week in class or studying. Effort has since collapsed across the board. “Full time” college students now average 27 hours of academic work a week—including just 14 hours spent studying. __ What’s College Good For?

Conventional 4 year colleges are suitable for only a small number of young people — perhaps 15% or slightly more. The rest are just spinning their wheels and accruing debt that creates a drag on their lives — and on the economy as a whole.

If everyone had a college degree, the result would be not great jobs for all, but runaway credential inflation. Trying to spread success with education spreads education but not success.

__ Bryan Caplan


Leftists are killing higher education: Lessons from Evergreen

Tax Their Endowments! Colleges have become luxury concentration camps for indoctrinating successive generations of the young. They no longer deserve any official protections or special privileges.

The bubble moves closer to bursting point

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