Via Instapundit comes this NY Post article, which opens thus:
When parents and teachers urge kids to go to college, they visualize the success stories: kids who graduate on time with marketable degrees. If every student fit this profile, college would be an outstanding personal investment. Unfortunately, most students don’t fit this profile, and their returns are mediocre or worse. Indeed, plenty would be better off skipping college in favor of full-time employment.
…and then goes on to list the five worst things about college in the U.S.
I will never forget my homeschooled kids’ first impression of their college classmates after the first week of classes.
Daughter: “OMG! They are so stupid! They have no idea what they’re doing or why they’re there!” Pause. “Most of them are gonna fail, big time.”
Son&Heir: “When you said that most people shouldn’t go to college at all but go out and get jobs straight out of high school, I thought you were just being an elitist. But you’re right. At best, most of them should be in trade schools or something.”
As for the five most horrible things about college (as enumerated in the article), I can’t argue with any of them — although I would add “spring break” to the list. The worst, in my opinion, is the degree of conformity — not just to the societal “everyone has to go to college” meme, but mostly to the conformity of thought being imposed on the hapless students by their professors and by their peers.
I have to confess that I was not exposed to this pressure when I was on campus just about a decade ago. With but a few exceptions, my professors were always receptive to my sometimes-contrary opinions when I expressed them in class (perhaps because I was, in many cases, older than they were). And I never associated with other students to any degree, so I can’t talk about peer pressure. (I did, however, manage to open a few eyes among the chilluns with my forthright opinions.)
And my original thesis has been, if anything, reinforced by events, as witnessed by the appalling unemployment rates among recent graduates. Most people shouldn’t go to college. Even with the dumbing-down of curricula, emphasis on “soft” Humanities courses and the loosening of academic standards overall, most kids are still failing whenever the courses are just slightly more difficult than high-school level, or require even a small combination of intellect and hard work. The plethora of “-Studies” courses, taught on marginal subject matter and delivered by tutors only marginally more intelligent / capable than their students, have simply amplified the degree to which colleges are failing in their mission.
And the kids, along with society, are paying the price. The Post article has it exactly right in its conclusion:
What’s the alternative [to the current situation]? Simple: Dry up the funding. Since we don’t get much per tax dollar, we should cut taxpayer support. This would have obvious drawbacks if college were a fine-tuned system for turning unskilled youths into skilled adults. In the real world, however, cutting spending doesn’t just save taxpayer money; it also puts a brake on credential inflation. Waiter, cashier and cook are already common jobs for college graduates. As long as we keep churning out more college graduates, this problem is only going to get worse. Instead, we need to admit that far too many kids go to college. Cutting government subsidies is the quickest way to make them reconsider.
Amen to that.