Defenders of the higher-ed establishment keep arguing that we need to put more people through college because workers with higher levels of formal education generally earn more than do workers with lower levels. President Obama insists that we need to lead the world in college graduation by 2020.
Recently the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association published a study showing how, in every state, higher levels of education correlate with higher incomes. But it doesn’t follow that any of the lower-wage workers would have better-paying jobs if they had gotten college credentials, as Jenna Robinson and I argue in this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call.
To a large extent, the demand for college comes from the perception that there is a causal link: If you get a college degree, then you will find a good job. That was never strictly true, but decades ago, before college became a virtual entitlement for everyone, the correlation was pretty strong. Now that we have a surfeit of people holding college degrees (but often no more than a weak high-school education), it’s time to abandon the idea that higher education is the path to success.