Jerry Pournelle on pointless college

You should know that when everyone is a white-collar worker, white-collar workers will earn far less than blue-collar workers. Or didn’t you take Econ 101 while going into debt in order to buy your ticket to the white-collar worker life?

Now even resident tuition in a state university plus the cost of living near campus comes to more than most undergraduates can make. It’s true that bright students who can prove they’re high up on the right side of the Bell Curve can manage “scholarships” and “grants” that serve to cut the costs, and some do escape huge debt loads on graduation: but then those well out to the right side of the Bell Curve usually manage one way or another.

It’s the IQ 80 – 120 who end up debtors for the rest of their lives.

Of course many of them ought not be in college to begin with. If our high schools and junior (community) colleges were anything like what they ought to be, anyone to the left of IQ 115 wouldn’t bother with college. What they learn in a 4 year college isn’t going to be all that much help; what they need to learn can be taught for a lot less money than our Universities charge. And those out to the right of the Bell Curve find themselves in classes taught by immigrant grad students who speak incomprehensible dialects said to be English; the Universities have to have jobs for these people (whose governments often pay full tuition) and the size of classes leaves the university little choice….

The points here are two: first, pretending that everyone is competent to go to university drives the cost of university education up to the point that many will have to go heavily into debt in order to afford a university education; and secondly, the major universities are so awash in money now that they can afford — and WANT to afford — Priya Venkatesan to teach French Narrative Theory in Freshman Composition.

Ideally, one should prepare one’s children to be flexible enough to take advantage of however the economy develops. Providing them with both the skills to a trade and a high-quality intellectual education – if they’re capable of it – is probably the best one can do for them.

Rod Dreher is considering the issue himself:

It is surely better to live in truth than dwell in the therapeutic fiction that all kids are capable of being above average in school, or that everyone should go to college.