We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Why is a college degree diminishing in its economic and social value?
Because so many people are going, nowadays. It's not special anymore, and unselected people are getting degrees today who could not have gotten near higher ed one generation ago. It's a consumer-oriented biz now, desperate for gullible consumers. From our IBD link this morning:
A recent example of this exaggerated view of the value of higher education is "The Undereducated American," a paper by Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.
The authors argue that the United States needs to produce far more college graduates than it currently does.
Their evidence is that there is a significant wage "premium" for those who graduate from college — across all fields of work. They argue, in effect, that the high return on investment applies regardless of whether the graduate becomes a financier or a dishwasher.
But they fail to look at generational differences.
Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that gains for recent college graduates have been declining for more than 10 years.
There are worse flaws w/ the Georgetown study than these authors point out.
Mainly it's the assumption that the statistical comparisons are valid. They are not. College self-selects the most talented and ambitious. Those people were always going to make more money regardless of their choice.
The reason why the average earnings is dropping is because the average now includes the poorer students. They're the ones who were formerly in the not college grads category, but now they are college grads. Their earnings didn't change, it just changed where it was tallied. Which, is exactly the point.
The better question, but one virtually impossible to answer rigorously, is, do students make more money by going to college?
Some likely do:
In part b/c of mandated credentialism (doctors, lawyers, accountants) which is up for debate whether it's worthwhile. (For some vocations I'd say emphatically yes.)
Other industries (teachers) have taken that model and got higher salaries, but at a cost of higher tuition, continuous learning requirements and denied opportunities. Whether they currently break even, I don't know. But, that bubble is bursting too, and already many teachers complain about the expenses of maintaining their certifications.
Others just learned good stuff faster than they'd do on their own: engineers, scientists.
But many others just wasted their time and tuition dollars. Do you really need a business degree to manage a grocery store, or Toys R Us? Didn't need one 30 years ago, does it really require one now? Jobs in social work don't even get to a break even point, w/ tuition and lost earnings likely never reclaimed by salary. You'd be better off skipping school entirely, and if you really wanted to "help people" do it as a volunteer.
I hope this bubble bursts, and people get angry about it. I want state universities to drop their ridiculous ______ Studies programs. And fire all of those professors who teach Marxism.
They are doing for college degrees what American dairy farmers have done for milk - oversupply. Higher Ed has become so productive at churning degrees out for everyone that can float a student loan, that the value of the degree is proving to be uneconomical.
Which is why we now see college grads having difficulty finding jobs, or if they do find one, it is for substantially less pay than they expected. Which makes it even more difficult to pay off those student loans. The economic model of a college degree that justified deep student loan debt has proven to be flawed. Horribly tragically flawed.
Of course, as colleges became fungible diploma mills in order to rake in tuition revenue, the value and quality of their product drops.
This country would be better off with far fewer kids going to college. Both economically and practically. We'd have more people doing practical useful hands-on work, which frankly makes them more realistic, grounded, and inventive. They'd also be far more sceptical about the "benefits" of more government regulation and bureaucracy.
Has anyone looked at the economic cost to the economy of letting a huge fraction of our teenagers to extend adolescent partying for an additional 4 or 5 years instead of going out and working and learning a trade or how to start a small business of their own? It's like lowering the retirement age, just at the other end!
"award a B.A. to every citizen by statute"
If a BA is good a PhD would be even better. We could all become college professors and make the big bucks.
Seriously, the idea that a degree will ensure higher earning is cargo cult thinking. A college degree has no magical properties. Someone with a degree in womens studies is not going to have employers wanting to hire them for a high paying job.