Over at the awful Forbes magazine, writer Stephen McBride opines thus:
Here’s some great news: one of America’s most broken industries is finally being exposed as a sham. And make no mistake, the end of college as we know it is a great thing.
It’s great for families, who’ll save money and take on less debt putting kids through school. It’s great for kids, who’ll no longer be lured into the socialist indoctrination centers that many American campuses have become.
He goes on to talk about the savings to be made and the investment opportunities (in companies which will rush to fill the void), but that’s not central to the theme of this post, other than to note that as college costs have ballooned, the return on investment has decreased while its concomitant debt has increased. Simply put: for a huge number of kids, college tuition is not only a gamble, but a bad one.
While I don’t quibble at all with the writer’s perspective on universities as propaganda outfits rather than places of learning, I have a somewhat different take on the whole thing.
I’ve written before on the wisdom of young people learning a trade prior to (or even instead of) going off to college, so I’m not going to repeat that thought. Rather (and this is my difference with the above Forbes article), I think that colleges and universities have become less relevant to people’s education. Other than careers which require intensive knowledge (engineering, medicine, bio-mechanics etc.), there’s very little a college degree can teach you that could not be equally imparted through a lengthy apprenticeship in that field.
And if any good has come of the Chinkvirus pandemic and its related effect on our lives, it’s that realization of how little a truly motivated person needs classroom instruction. (As an aside, if the would-be student isn’t motivated to learn, college is absolutely the worst place for them to be, not only for the cost but also for the array of distractions extant.)
I can hear it now: “Oh,” stupid parents will moan, “my little Jimmy / Susie / Jamaal / Shaniqua won’t learn anything from an online course because they’ll just play their online games instead.”
I’ve got news for you, O Stupid Parents: your undisciplined and ineducable kids are already doing that, only they’re doing it in the lecture room.
The late, great and much-missed columnist Mike Royko once said (and I paraphrase because I’m speaking from memory) something like: most people shouldn’t go to college; they should become butchers or janitors. Worse yet, he added, the problem with giving butchers and janitors college degrees is that they then go into business with the same intelligence level, only now they’ll be woefully under-qualified to be managers, because they should have been butchers or janitors.
Or, as Daughter so eloquently put it after her first semester at college: “Most of these idiots belong in the grease pit at Jiffylube.” After two years, she expanded that thought to include the professors. (Lest we forget, this was a girl who taught herself Japanese at home while being homeschooled.)
And this is the problem with most college graduates these days: they had no business going to college in the first place because they were either stupid or ineducable. Now they can be found in the outside world suitably “qualified” by their degrees: at best, they’re busy screwing up some enterprise in a middle-management position; at worst, they can be found among the ranks of the rioters in Portland and Seattle.
So yes, I agree with McBride that most colleges will disappear, and good riddance. The ones that survive should get a wake-up call, and realize that in business, nothing is truly irreplaceable — and yes, their beloved ivory towers are indeed just a business.
All I can hope for is that parents will point their kids at careers and activities that will not only be valuable as income streams, but that the kids will actually enjoy doing because they’ve discovered the psychological value of a job well done.
For the rest, there’s the grease pit at Jiffylube. Good luck to them as they compete with hungry Third-World immigrants.