Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Vedder Questions our Investment in Higher Education


Rich Vedder had this op-ed published in yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch.  After pointing to huge differences in graduation rates among a number of universities in Ohio, he asks, “Are we sucking unqualified students into the system, letting them fail and burdening them with student loans but little in the way of vocational skills?” The answer, I believe, is clearly yes. 


A college education has been sold to Americans as the passport to the good life, but as more and more poorly prepared and academically indifferent students are recruited by colleges that want to keep their numbers up, it is no longer that.  The top college grads still will earn great salaries in business or the professions (which isn’t necessarily because of their formal education), but today there are many grads who end up taking “high school” jobs that don’t call for anything more than simple trainability.


Just as a farmer might go past the point of diminishing returns in fertilizing his field, so too has the US gone past the point of diminishing returns on encouraging people to get college degrees.


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