For most people who attend, anyhow:
There is no magic point at which a genuine college-level education becomes an option, but anything below an IQ of 110 is problematic. If you want to do well, you should have an IQ of 115 or higher. Put another way, it makes sense for only about 15% of the population, 25% if one stretches it, to get a college education. And yet more than 45% of recent high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges. Adjust that percentage to account for high-school dropouts, and more than 40% of all persons in their late teens are trying to go to a four-year college–enough people to absorb everyone down through an IQ of 104.
No data that I have been able to find tell us what proportion of those students really want four years of college-level courses, but it is safe to say that few people who are intellectually unqualified yearn for the experience, any more than someone who is athletically unqualified for a college varsity wants to have his shortcomings exposed at practice every day. They are in college to improve their chances of making a good living. What they really need is vocational training. But nobody will say so, because “vocational training” is second class. “College” is first class.
I’d estimate that a college education is wasted on 85 percent of the recipients, and is downright destructive for at least a third of those. If you factor in the cost of an education combined with the opportunity cost of not entering the workforce full-time for four to six years, there’s a lot of people who are way behind the eight-ball upon graduation.
Many people – most of whom don’t belong in college – don’t seem to understand that elites exist for a reason. That which is in low supply will always be in great demand, whether it is intelligence, beauty or athletic ability. Handing out pieces of paper and expecting it to serve as a substitute isn’t going to work, it isn’t going to make any difference at all.