Phi Beta Cons

No, the ‘College Could Be a Waste’ Stories Aren’t Always Wrong

In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, I take issue with the piece Kevin Carey had published in The New Republic several weeks ago.

In essence, Carey’s argument is that college will nearly always prove to be a good investment because it has in the past and because skill levels across much of the workforce are rising. I dispute the first point by noting that the phenomenon of large number of college-credentialed people having to take work in fields that call for no academic training has been with us for decades. As for the second, there is no reason to believe that whatever skill increases may be needed throughout the labor force are such that people who have not been to college are incapable of mastering them. The military is a good example. The sophistication of the equipment, weaponry and otherwise, used in the military has been steadily increasing, but it trains its personnel — very few of whom have any college coursework — so that they have the skills needed.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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