College: can we admit it’s not for everyone?
Historically, college attendance has correlated well with future earnings.
Today, not so much (STEM-type majors generally excluded).
The fundamental issue of confusion is causation and correlation.
Historically, college attendance was characterized by the presence of superior students. Now, college attendance is for everyone.
Historically, college completion was an easily measured discriminator which simplified hiring decisions. Now, college completion (again, STEM-type majors generally excluded) has lost its predictive power, especially given that college does not correlate well with learning. Today’s in: need-based aid. Today’s out: merit-based aid.
Throwing more money at higher education—that is, more federally subsidized loans—is certain to increase the cost to the student (and taxpayer), do nothing for employers, delay entrance into adulthood, and burden the ill-prepared borrower for a (perhaps) lifelong pattern of indebtedness… like the federal government itself.
How do policy leaders like the President address the issue? With self-contradicting bumper stickers.
“It’s not enough just to increase student aid. We’ve also got to stop subsidizing skyrocketing tuition,” Obama said to applause in Iowa City.
In declaring the need to square the circle, it seems we are presented with compelling evidence that the President’s own critical thinking was not enhanced (although I supposed those “skills” could have actually once been worse—cringe) by his collegial university experiences. That’s probably why his academic record is sealed and those who do know aren’t talking.