Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Higher Ed Bubble

There has been talk of an impending crisis in the student loan industry and I can imagine that it migh have tragic consequences, but Yeah Right:
As someone who resents how those four years are often an indoctrination in politically correct sensibilities (see here), I think this is a conversation worth having. It's not to say that I didn't love my time at that elite institution I got to attend -- that university mentioned in the article that "recently constructed a fancy dorm that cost $70,000 more per bed than the median home price" -- but I'm guessing there were other ways I could have broadened my horizons and learned more for the money (though I doubt I could have learned more Marx...).

But I suppose that people will still pursue college degrees until employers start removing that as a "get-in-the-door" requirement for job interviews, and start thinking about how some of the brightest people may be those that don't want to wait around for a diploma (Bill Gates anyone?).
I for one loved my time in college and to a large extent avoided the "politically correct" indoctrination. Some of that may have been a result of being a non-traditional student, by going back to school after time in the military--which while not necessarily the real world, at least showed me a different world than college.

However, it should go without saying the not everyone needs to go to college and not every job needs a college education to perform, including lots of non-blue-collar jobs. The fact that we have expected our schools to focus on "college prep" is doing a massive disservice to our kids, our economy and our social fabric. I am not saying we have to have uneducated people, far from it. However, we should be cognizant that we have created a class of people are made to feel inferior socially because the "elite" have decided that a college education is a requirement and some people don't have it. These so-called "uneducated people" make massive, signficant contributions to our country without that college degree and the elite puts them down for it.

Will the student loan bubble bursting fix that notion? I don't know. What i don't want to happen is that student loans dry up. In reality the student loan is one of hte only loans out there that is granted without a credit check and only on a signature of someone whose only potential is a degree that may pay down the road. But if we continue to force people in to college when they don't want to be there, all we have done is create the potential--indeed, the likelihood that they will drop out and now be saddled with debt they would have been far better off not having incurred in the first place.

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