College Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be


The one-time ticket to success is more likely to result in a lifetime of debt.


Pay no attention to the wizards behind their curtains.

I’m referring to the data freaks who conjure up statistics showing that college graduates earn far more pay and have greater employment opportunity than non-college grads. For instance, a recently published jobless rate by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows college grads age 25 and older (keep this age factor in mind) have a 3.2% unemployment rate with median pay of $75,300 for men working full-time jobs. That’s a lot better picture than for people without college degrees.

Here’s where sleight of hand comes into play with the data, however:

The most insidious part of all this is that even as college costs keep rising, the product students are receiving has been devalued thanks to grade inflation and lax standards. One federal study showed that only a quarter of college graduates were deemed proficient in college-level reading comprehension.

Yet, according to the New York Times, an astounding 43% of grades meted out at four-year universities these days are A’s! Softball courses and curricula have proliferated in fields such as gender studies and public relations.

Once upon a time a college degree could genuinely be called a ticket to success. That was when attending college was a privilege accorded only to the rich or exceptionally smart individuals. Back in 1940, less than 5% of Americans 25 and older had bachelor’s degrees. Now, nearly 28% do. Upwards of 60% of our population has attended college to some extent.  

Although some highly specialized degrees are in high demand, for most fields that require a college degree the market is saturated. Your basic liberal arts or business degree buys you a resume that competes with hundreds of people with similar credentials for every entry-level job. Even lawyers are feeling the pinch. Only about half of law school graduates are finding legal profession jobs these days, and last year law school applications were reported to be at a 30-year low.

This reality has not yet sunk in to most of our population. Family and social pressures still compel many young people toward higher education when they have little interest in or aptitude for academic life. High school counselors still think that anyone who doesn’t go to college is a lunkhead.

This stinkin’ thinkin’ needs to change. Stay tuned, for in the weeks ahead I’m going to draw attention to opportunities beyond the ivory towers.