College is worthless

From The Wall Street Journal:

William Strauss and Neil Howe have recently argued in the Chronicle of Higher Education that with tuition and the resulting debt reaching surreal levels, and colleges and universities failing to reverse the post-1960s collapse of academic standards, parents and students are increasingly skeptical about the value of a college education.

Parents born after 1961, Messrs. Strauss and Howe have found, experienced that collapse of standards in their own college educations and are determined not to tolerate another overpriced and underperforming disappointment for their own children. This is the generation that “propelled school choice, vouchers, charter schools, home-schooling and the standards-and-accountability movement.” These parents will be more likely to treat higher education as a market, in which smart buyers exercise discretion.

If you’re going to blow $100k, you’d do better to buy your 18 year-old a Ferrari and let him drive that to his next job interview. Chances are, he’ll get a better job armed with an automotive marker of success than with a degree.

What the upset little college kiddies, whose angry missives show up here from time to time, don’t understand is that their vaunted educations don’t mean a damn thing anymore. So, you’ve got a 3.8 General Prize for Attendance, so what? I have spoken with individuals holding economics majors from major universities who have never heard of John Maynard Keynes, I have spoken with political science majors who have never read Plato’s Republic or Marx’s Communist Manifesto, much less Cato, Aristotle or the Federalist Papers. English majors who can neither read nor write effectively are as ubiquitous as Philosophy majors incapable of rational thought and foreign language majors who can’t actually speak the language they have supposedly mastered.

An art director at a major game studio once complimented the art in our game and asked me how such a small development house had managed to acquire such a strong art team. Our answer was pretty simple. We gave the prospective artist a piece of paper, a pencil and told him to draw something. If he could do it well, we hired him. Most of the time, they couldn’t and we didn’t. I seldom bothered to look at resumes, much less diplomas or transcripts.

Colleges these days produce pieces of paper, not educated individuals. Unless you wish to work for a government or in a government-regulated profession – medicine, the law, hair-dressing – there is no longer any point to wasting four to seven years in a university system, and going into debt to do so.

Learning and education are tremendously important, but they have increasingly little to do with paying money to an “academic institution” for a piece of paper falsely claiming you know something that you demonstrably do not.