Mark’s post further calls into question the common notion that higher education is “transformative.” For some students, it certainly is, but for many others — perhaps the majority — it’s just a pleasant interlude between high school and the job market (as Milton Friedman puts it).
We often hear from the higher-ed establishment that America is so prosperous because so many of our young people go to college. (Recently, we have been hearing the related theme that our economic future is jeopardized because we are lagging behind some other countries in the percentage of students who enroll, as in this paper.)
Since it seems clear beyond dispute that for a large number of American students, their college experience does very little for them intellectually, I think that the truth is the exact opposite. It is because the U.S. is such a wealthy nation that we can afford the high cost of an enormous higher-ed system that spends so much and accomplishes so little.