Phi Beta Cons

Can College Have Bad Effects?

A reader who commented on my recent assertion that college doesn’t necessarily teach students good traits like responsibility and perseverance brought to my attention a study released in 2008 finding that “college-bound youth report lower levels of criminal activity and substance abuse during adolescence compared to non-college-bound youth. However, levels of drinking, property theft, and unstructured socializing with friends increase among the college-bound after enrollment at a four-year university, and they surpass the rates of less-educated peers.”

The upshot seems to be that while many students learn little or nothing of value during their college experience, a fair number of them acquire some bad traits. Put a lot of academically disengaged, fun-seeking kids together, and that outcome seems more than believable; almost inevitable, I’d say.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Most Popular


Nordic Welfare States Worsen the Gender Gap

Following International Women's Day 2018, a host of policies have been promoted as ways to advance women's careers. CNBC, for example, has run a story arguing that policies such as parental leave for both parents can raise women’s incomes. In the Huffington Post we can read that adopting the welfare policies of ... Read More

Running With Trump

Jeff Roe, who managed Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2016, has a message for Republican congressional candidates: Don’t run from Trump this year. Instead they should “[f]ix bayonets and charge the hill.” What exactly does this mean? It’s not that they should “support the president’s ... Read More