Life Stop Going to College
posted by February 25 at 16:13 PMon
At last. This article, in today’s New York Times floats an idea that keeps getting more convincing: Fewer—way, way fewer—people should go to college.
Certain influential Americans have begun to reassert the old wisdom that a college education is one of those things, like sky diving and liverwurst, that are both superb and not for everybody.
The college experience has become diluted by hordes of (mostly) middle-class kids who get dumped there as a matter of course, sucking up valuable resources, ruining classes by virtue of their a) numbers and b) inability to contribute intelligently to the conversation, and wasting their (and everybody else’s) time.
By resources, I don’t mean simply forcing colleges to spend more on dorms and athletic centers—Lord knows the vapid motherfuckers don’t put much of a strain on the libraries—but on energy from professors, so that the shy, brilliant kid doesn’t get the attention she needs because she’s in a class of 50 people, only five of whom actually want to be (and should be) there.
There is the earnings gap to consider:
Presumably, college is steadily more expensive because its benefits are steadily more visible. In 1979, according to the economists Frank Levy and Richard Murnane, a 30-year-old college graduate earned 17 percent more than a 30-year-old high-school grad. Now the gap is over 50 percent.
And—if the stats are true, which is debatable—I don’t know what to do about that. Maybe the first few generations of kids who don’t go to college are just going to have to eat it. Maybe they’ll find that it’s not college itself but some other indicator that accounts for the earnings gap. But, eventually, the numbers of college grads have to decline, not least because:
The return on college degrees must eventually fall as more people get them.
College should be for the smart and ambitious, much cheaper, and equally available to the poor and the rich. Imagine how much more attention each applicant would get if there were fewer of them—meaning the importance of relatively less-representative filtering tools like SATs and WASLs and GPAs would fade and the more indicative, qualitative issues (“oh, you got a C average because you were busy raising your 12 siblings while your mom was usually passed-out drunk but you really want to study political science?”) would come to the fore.
Some of the smartest people I know didn’t go to college. Some of the stupidest people I know did go to college. The bottom line: You people who go to college by default because you can’t think of anything better to do with yourselves are ruining it for everyone else. Get a job, go hitchhiking, start a business, anything. But stop going to college unless you really, really want to be there.