Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

College Education on the Defensive


I have long thought that Charles Murray’s entry into higher-education discussions would change the debate. By questioning the universal value of a college education in his 2008 book Real Education, Murray drew attention to a position that others such as the Pope Center’s George Leef initiated (in George’s case with his paper “The Overselling of Higher Education”).

A column in the Wall Street Journal suggests that I am right — that it is becoming possible to subtly question whether the typical high-school graduate should automatically go to college. Sue Shellenbarger does not agree with Murray (or mention him) but she reveals a “steady stream of email I have received since writing about the college cost-to-value equation a few months ago.” Parents are worried that the value of a college degree may be going down while the cost is clearly going up.

Shellenbarger’s column lists reasons why college is good for everyone, at least for the sons and daughters of everyone who reads the Wall Street Journal. But the tone is defensive. That’s the shift.


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