...from George Leef, writing at Forbes.com: "More College Does Not Beget More Economic Prosperity" As Mr. Leef reminds us, the national obsession with sending millions of young people to the academy has resulted in a glut of grads--with marginal degrees--that don't meet the needs of a changing economy. A few sample paragraphs:
People who have high intelligence and ambition often earn college and advanced degrees. Sometimes that formal education is important in their later success, but many say that their education had very little to do with it. Conversely, some extremely successful people dropped out of college or never attended at all. And as those ridiculous Occupy Wall Street protests taught us, huge numbers of college graduates are unemployed or employed only in jobs that don’t call for anything more than basic trainability.
Conclusion: Having a college education is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for personal success. Many people prosper without college, and many who have B.A. degrees or higher nevertheless struggle in low-paying jobs, often saddled with high student loan debts.
What that means for nations is that it isn’t possible to generate economic progress just by “investing” in education. More seat time, credits and degrees don’t automatically translate into more productive people.
No offense to Mr. Leef, but this is common sense stuff. Unfortunately, America's educational priorities are so far out of whack we need this sort of column to remind us of our folly. By one estimate, there are at least 600,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs in this country that go unfilled because companies can't find individuals with the right skills to fill them. TV host Mike Rowe, who has become a crusader for the skilled trades and technical education, recently told an interviewer that the average age of "people that make stuff" in America is 58. Most will be retiring over the next decade. Where their replacements will come from is anyone's guess.
One reason is that young people are inbued with the notion that college is the only road to success--and it certainly can be. But it can also provide a path enormous debt and an "education" that has no relevance in today's workplace.
Something to think about as Susie and Johnny head back to the university to finish that degree in art history or gender studies.