Skip to comments.Against Higher Education
Posted on 05/30/2018 5:31:36 AM PDT by Kaslin
Today, all Americans are told, "Go to college!"
President Obama said, "College graduation has never been more valuable."
But economist Bryan Caplan says that most people shouldn't go.
"How many thousands of hours did you spend in classes studying subjects that you never thought about again?" he asks.
Lots, in my case. At Princeton, I learned to live with strangers, play cards and chase women, but I slept through boring lectures, which were most of them. At least tuition was only $2,000. Now it's almost $50,000.
"People usually just want to talk about the tuition, which is a big deal, but there's also all the years that people spend in school when they could have been doing something else," points out Caplan in my new YouTube video.
"If you just take a look at the faces of students, it's obvious that they're bored," he says. "People are there primarily in order to get a good job."
That sounds like a good reason to go to college. But Caplan, in his new book, "The Case Against Education," argues that there's little connection between what we absorb in college and our ability to do a job.
"It's totally true that when people get fancier degrees their income generally goes up," concedes Caplan, but "the reason why this is happening is not that college pours tons of job skills into you. The reason is ... a diploma is a signaling device."
It tells employers that you were smart enough to get through college.
But when most everyone goes to college, says Caplan, "You just raise the bar. Imagine you're at a concert, and you want to see better. Stand up and of course you'll see better. But if everyone stands up, you just block each other's views."
That's why today, he says, high-end waiters are expected to have college degrees.
"You aren't saying: you, individual, don't go to college," I interjected."You're saying we as a country are suckers to subsidize it."
"Exactly," replied Caplan. "Just because it is lucrative for an individual doesn't mean it's a good idea for a country."
Caplan says if students really want to learn, they can do it without incurring tuition debt.
"If you want to go to Princeton, you don't have to apply," he points out. "Just move to the town and start attending classes."
That's generally true. At most schools you can crash college lectures for free. But almost no one does that.
"In people's bones, they realize that what really counts is that diploma," concludes Caplan.
Because that diploma is now usually subsidized by taxpayers, college costs more. Tuition has risen at triple the rate of inflation.
It's not clear students learn more for their extra tuition, but colleges' facilities sure have gotten fancier. They compete by offering things like luxurious swimming pools and gourmet dining. That probably won't help you get a job.
"If you're doing computer science or electrical engineering, then you probably are actually learning a bunch of useful skills," Caplan says. But students now often major in abstract topics like social justice, diversity studies, multicultural studies.
"But don't the liberal arts expand people's minds?" I asked. Philosophy? Literature? Isn't it all making our brains work better?
"That's the kind of thing you expect teachers to say," answered Caplan. "There's a whole field of people who have actually studied this (and) they generally come away after looking at a lot of evidence saying, 'Wow, actually it's wishful thinking.'"
A study found that a third of people haven't detectably learned anything after four years in college.
Although Caplan thinks college is mostly a scam, he says there's one type of person who definitely benefits -- professors like him.
"I'm a tenured professor," he said. "A tenured professor cannot be fired. ... You got a nice income and there are almost no demands upon your time."
Professor Caplan is only expected to teach for five hours a week.
I told him that sounded like a government-subsidized rip-off.
"Yeah. Well, I'm a whistleblower," replied Caplan.
A tenured professor cannot be fired.
However, if you want to become a top lawyer, doctor, or banker, then college is essential. It had better be the right college, too. Many people know the route: Yale > Harvard Law > Cravath, Swain & Moore; Harvard > Cornell Med School > Mount Sinai; Princeton > Harvard Business School > Goldman Sachs. It’s competitive, but you can make a huge salary if you’re good.
Socialist and Cultural Marxist indoctrination above K12 level doesn’t come cheap.
In case you are wondering..., she was "Grandfathered In" as a teacher when degrees became required and was regarded as the "Go To" teacher for advice by her peers!
“lawyer, doctor, or banker”
Not exactly the crowd MAGA!
I work at a ‘university’ and people walk out of here with PhD’s, but can’t find their own as%^s with a map
Get rid of all the grants. Give bonuses to those that join the military. Make community colleges go the trimester route-no summer vacation.
If you aren’t in a STEM program, a Business program or a program that requires further education like med or law school, chances are good your first job out of college is going to involve cleaning bathrooms for the homeless at a local Starbucks.
Liberal Arts programs are a waste of time and money. You want to study French lit? Pick up a book at the library and start reading. Want to be a social justice warrior? Get off your butt and move to Chicago.
I don't know if this is a result of our litigious society, but it seems as though companies want proof of an "educated" individual. Many degrees are relatively meaningless, but they do seem to represent that a person can complete a four-year curriculum, that they can demonstrate the motivation necessary to commit to a longer-term goal and complete it.
There are plenty of other ways into the workforce, and there are lots of opportunities to work in technical or vocational trades. I don't endorse an expensive college education, but one that is commensurate with an expected position and salary. I'm a big advocate of state schools and universities over esoteric, out-of-state schools.
I think it’s important to make ‘school’ as much like work as possible...
We have people graduating who have never held a job and don’t know what the workplace is.
Most so called degrees are expensive and worthless.
One of our younger relatives with a double engineering degree, decades ago labeled most of the other degrees as Instant Unemployment Degrees or IUD’s.
My wife was a 3 year RN. She was graduated at the top of her class and never had to take boards in the states where she worked. She would show her grades and certificate and immediately was hired. She was boarded in every state we lived in and including California.
She took off about 12 years to be a full time MOM. She thought about getting a BS degree in Nursing here in California. None of her pre med courses at a major college associated with her Top 3 Year Nursing program counted.
So she had to enroll in a year of bs courses like art and other social bs. It would have taken 5-6 years to get a BS degree in Nursing in spite of 10 years of good nursing experience including being one of the pioneer nurses at a premier ICU in the DC area.
I tried to tell her that this BS program was just that. It was an expensive BS program giving jobs to those who couldn’t be nurses to be instructors.
She got to know a good group of 3 year Nurses, who worked as nurses in the local hospital or for Doctors smart enough to
hire them instead of non nurses. They formed a group to discuss what was new in nursing and what was old and should be kept.
She applied to be an office nurse with a new FP in our town, and he hired her.
He realized that she had read more EKGs in 3+ years in the ICU setting than he would have in a life time. She was super with a stethoscope, so he let her set up and do prelim EKG analysis, BP’s naturally and listen to with her stethoscope re any heart abnormalities. He bought her high end stethoscopes and let her select the EKG machines she used.
She worked for him and his group for 35 years until they both retired. She took real nursing courses in lectures and attended lectures at the local hospital and later did CE online.
She and the other 3 year Real Nurses as they called each other, got together often for real nursing discussions.
At my alma mater, UMass, the bat-shit crazy feminist fascists have long taken over. They display a huge banner all over at campus, “Hate has no home at UMass!” Then they attack conservatives with spit-flying hate and physical violence. This while tuition has gone from $200 in 1968 to $22,000 today.
“If you aren’t in a STEM program, a Business program or a program that requires further education like med or law school, your first job out of college is going to involve cleaning bathrooms ... at the local Starbucks.”
My first job after graduating was as a locker room attendant at a community beach; I worked my way up to Lifeguard before the end of the Summer. It took years to get a position in the field of my college major.
Great advice. I just sent it to a grand kid, who will be a senior in an excellent private high school. He aces his stem course and barely gets B’s in the non stem courses. b
As a result and being a white middle class male, he will not be able to get into a UC system with B’s.
I have suggested that he spend two years at a local community college taking STEM courses and more Spanish courses. Then, join the Navy or Army for their crypto positions.
My nephew always wanted a physical job/trade so his parents never pushed college even though he was very smart, high SATs, etc. He worked various trades until he found his fit, got a good job in that field, and took a lot of cert classes at community college. Now at 22 he runs his own crew, makes a lot of money, and has an opportunity to start his own business. His friends are just graduating college, and all are working min wage jobs.
Absolutely fantastic post! Thank you.
True enough, but incomplete. It also tells employers that you were persistent enough to stick to a task for an extended time and "get it done"....which is, I think THE main criterion for job success.
It’s not just that.
We need to make an end of the (insert here) Studies sociology phenomenon and, to be blunt, make people demonstrate that they can reasonably be expected to actually repay student loans themselves, with no guarantees from government, USING the abilities gained through their degree before they can even get student loans (this should inherently serve to limit accumulated debt to some relationship with nominal salaries for a given profession as well).
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