Phi Beta Cons

Re: Pre-Professionalism

Thomas, I appreciated your post, and I think it hits on something important. If there’s one thing that’s clear after spending much of my professional life talking to students and visiting campuses, it’s that students spend an enormous amount of time on other things. For some, it’s the party and social circuit, for others it’s gaming, for a few activism, and many, many others work. Simply put, college has become so undemanding that students have to fill their time with other things.  

At the height of the dot-com bubble, companies that had never made a dime had more stock-market value than companies that were producing sometimes hundreds of millions in actual profits. At the height of the housing boom, migrant farm workers with virtually no income were receiving no-document loans to purchase homes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And now, in our next bubble economy, college students are going deeply into debt to essentially purchase a resume bullet point. How much is a line item on a resume worth? $100,000? $200,000? $300,000?  

It’s only a matter of time before employers realize that a college “education” that requires a diminishing amount of actual effort is no longer a prime predictor of professional competence. Likewise, it’s only a matter of time before the more savvy students realize that the other things that they do in college (especially if they are working) are providing far more value than the education they’re going into debt to afford.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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