Phi Beta Cons

I Think I’ll Scream If….

If I read another of those pathetic articles making the claim that going to college is a great “investment” that leads to a huge “earnings premium.” Here’s one of those pieces, in the Washington Post by Christopher Shea.

He wants to reassure young Americans that the college debt crisis isn’t really that bad because college doesn’t have to lead to a huge load of debt (which is true) and if you don’t borrow to go to college, you’ll miss out on the great “return on investment” (which is not true).  It used to be the case that earning a degree helped to distinguish you from the pack — a “positional good” — and thereby put you in line for one of the high paying jobs that was offered only to such people. But today, with an enormous glut of people in the labor force holding college degrees that betoken no particular accomplishment, that benefit has evaporated.

It is certainly worth investing in human capital, but going to college is neither necessary nor sufficient for that.

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

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