Are too many people going to college?

Arts & Letters delivers again.

This article puts together a number of things I’ve noticed in my lengthy undergraduate career, and have complained about, but the article makes its points better than I did.  Like this:

Employers value the B.A. because it is a no-cost (for them) screening device for academic ability and perseverance. The more people who go to college, the more sense it makes for employers to require a B.A. When only a small percentage of people got college degrees, employers who required a B.A. would have been shutting themselves off from access to most of the talent. With more than a third of 23-year-olds now getting a B.A., many employers can reasonably limit their hiring pool to college graduates because bright and ambitious high-school graduates who can go to college usually do go to college. An employer can believe that exceptions exist but rationally choose not to expend time and money to identify them. Knowing this, large numbers of students are in college to buy their admission ticket—the B.A.

This is just a part of one of the points leading to the conclusion that there has to be a better way than what we’re doing now.

2 thoughts on “Are too many people going to college?

  1. I’ve always thought that college was oversubscribed for most people. When I left high school, there were still good jobs that you could get with only a HS diploma, or an AA or AS degree. Not any more. Happily, my experience and military background can grandfather me into a lot of interviews, but I also tried for a job that required a BA just to land an interview. I later found out that they wanted people who were young, malleable, and in debt for their school, because they could pretty much do what they wanted with them. That isn’t a company I want to work for.

    I’ve love to see a radical overhaul of the educational system. Like, how come it takes four years to get a bachelors? Why not 2 years- with toe-to-toe classes on a schedule similar to an actual work-week? I hated that classes were only three days a week- scattered all over creation, and constantly changing the semester hours to rack up the credit. That’s a scam, not an education. And don’t even get me started about the price of books. People have been bamboozled by this 19th century style of learning for far too long- schools need to tighten things up and change with the times.

    I got my AS in about 18 months- with a combination of 9 months of 8-hour school days and then the OJT apprentice portion of my training. This works.

  2. This sentence nailed it for me- and articulated what I’ve been trying to tell people for years- that college does not guarantee a good wage:

    What I have said of electricians is true throughout the American job market. The income for the top people in a wide variety of occupations that do not require a college degree is higher than the average income for many occupations that require a B.A. Furthermore, the range and number of such jobs are expanding rapidly. The need for assembly-line workers in factories (one of the most boring jobs ever invented) is falling, but the demand for skilled technicians of every kind—in healthcare, information technology [emphasis mine], transportation networks, and every other industry that relies on high-tech equipment—is expanding. The service sector includes many low-skill, low-paying jobs, but it also includes growing numbers of specialized jobs that pay well (for example, in healthcare and the entertainment and leisure industries). Construction offers an array of high-paying jobs for people who are good at what they do. It’s not just skilled labor in the standard construction trades that is in high demand. The increase in wealth in American society has increased the demand for all sorts of craftsmanship. Today’s high-end homes and office buildings may entail the work of specialized skills in stonework, masonry, glazing, painting, cabinetmaking, machining, landscaping, and a dozen other crafts. The increase in wealth is also driving an increased demand for the custom-made and the exquisitely wrought, meaning demand for artisans in everything from pottery to jewelry to metalworking. There has never been a time in history when people with skills not taught in college have been in so much demand at such high pay as today, nor a time when the range of such jobs has been so wide. In today’s America, finding a first-rate lawyer or physician is easy. Finding first-rate skilled labor is hard.

    My title is ‘pc support specialist’, but it ought to be ‘Wizard of Broadband and Other Minor Miracles’ or even ‘Cyber Necromancer’, considering the scope of my job. I fix computers. I fix software, PDAs, WiFi, Servers, run cable, cuss printers into submission, make voting boards bow to my will, make fancy HD plasma TVs work (without reading the manual), fix AV systems, run AV systems, mess with HF and microwave radios, and tease the hell out of people who accidentally make their screens flip sideways when they accidentaly hit the ctrl +alt+ direction arrrow.

    I love my job.

    I still read and study. Hell, I’ve read “Paradise Lost” and am pretty literate and able to dive into all sorts of interesting and complex subjects. I read technical manuals for fun! And I’ve discovered that my experience is worth its weight in CS graduates who don’t know how to find or install a ‘pro.msi’ file if their Office software coughs up a hairball.

    I won’t get rich working for the state, but I make a decent income. People are glad to see me when I come to their desk. Who could hope for a better job- being respected and appreciated?

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