Phi Beta Cons

How Much Is Too Much?

Two sides to the issue of whether we need more or fewer college graduates

To many observers of higher education, the push to spend more money producing more college graduates is maddening. Although I am firmly in the “enough already” camp, it’s occasionally good to hear a thoughtful person on the other side state their case. Note, I said, “thoughtful,” not just some establishment drone who trots out a bunch of tired old shibboleths such as “college graduates make a million dollars more in their lifetimes.”

On the Pope Center site, there is just such a thoughtful argument made by Eric Johnson, a freelancer who works in financial aid at UNC-Chapel Hill, as Part I of a two-part debate. He accurately points out that attempts to increase primary and secondary education received considerable opposition in earlier times, much like the debate about higher education today.

Arguing the “enough already” side in Part II is Pope Center staffer Jesse Saffron. He writes:

Strong cultural momentum—strengthened over several generations by parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and elected officials—has fostered an unwarranted faith in college’s benefits, raised attendance to irrational levels, and yielded an oversupply of graduates. 

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