The higher ed scam

John Stossel weighs in on the scam that is the “college for all” mantra.

This mantra has bugged me for years, especially after putting three of my kids through college (and putting myself through back in the dark ages before Google and Wikipedia, when you actually had to look things up in books).

There are two factors to consider. First is who goes to college today, relative to, say, 50 or so years ago.

Two generations ago, to go to college, one needed to come from money, or be smart enough to gain a scholarship. Yes, there were legacies, dummies from wealthy families, who clogged up the quadrangle. But, by and large, young men and women who went for higher education and persevered to earn a degree actually got an education. Key word is “persevered.” Many flunked out, and found work.

These days, everyone is told they must go to college. Most who graduate from today’s high schools should not go to college, and, frankly, likely could not have even graduated from a decent high school 50 years ago.

The second factor relates to the first: partly owing to the flood of un- and under-qualified students, there is a Gresham’s Law at work in “higher” ed: the value of a degree has been degraded. A degree from Bugtooth Normal Teacher’s College back in the day would at least qualify a graduate to teach in Bugtooth. These days, such a degree might, or might not, lead to any employment beyond “would you like fries with that?”

Supporting this factor is the cheapening of the academic currency of curricula and grades. This is not just in the proliferation of Basket Weaving (“gender” studies, “American” studies, Your Approved Minority or Sexual Orientation studies). In many fields, Cs become Bs become As.

Part of the problem is the Lake Wobegone problem: All of our children are above average. And, of course, they’re all “special.”

The over-arching point is that when a good, in this case a college education, is over-produced and made cheap, as today’s college “educations” have become, it is worth less, to the point of being worthless.

The notion that all should or must go to college is a scam.


One thought on “The higher ed scam

  1. Pingback: Accountability in Higher Ed: Pick Your Poison. By Andrew Gillen «

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