Just a Quick Thought #5: Fixing College 101

Originally published by AMERICANSCAPEGOAT.COM

October 19, 2015


Disclaimer: This blog post will not solve problems.  I apologize for any false hope that the attention-grabbing title may have caused.

About the Problem:

There are a lot of underemployed college graduates out there who are buried in debt.  Every year, the odds that they will land their dream jobs grow longer as hoards of fresh graduates are ceremoniously dumped into already hypercompetitive job markets.  There doesn’t appear to be much hope that things will turn around anytime soon.

This problem has not gone unnoticed by our politicians who have spied an opportunity to win voters by promising to fix this education-debt cycle crisis.  The two leading proposed solutions are: 1.) free college   2.) debt forgiveness.

There was a time when I believed that politicians were stupid or naïve.  They aren’t.  They are cunning rascals who are fully aware that they will never be burdened by the negative consequences of their decisions.  It is worth pointing out that neither of the political solutions for fixing the education-debt cycle crisis will save the American public money.  Perhaps more significantly, neither solution will threaten the flow of money to universities and textbook publishers.  Before we can fix the education debt-cycle crisis, we need to be able to recognize that universities, textbook publishers, corporations, and politicians may have interests that aren’t directly aligned with the wellbeing of students.

Most young people who enroll in college are motivated by the belief that a college education is a sound investment that will lead to a better job after graduation.  They aren’t going off to school to find themselves* or seek enlightenment.  My own experiences and observations as a college student support this view of reality.  Most of the people who I knew in school approached college as a hurdle that needed to be cleared before they could move on in life. (This is the reason why the classes that had a reputation for being easy were always full.)

It has been a long-whispered fact that (even at the name brand universities) college students don’t make much progress in improving the quality of their minds during their first two years of higher education.  Adding a Beatles appreciation course or a bowling class to a schedule of microwaved high school leftovers isn’t going to make anyone smarter.  The kids appear to agree that their time is being wasted. (Many of them prefer underage binge drinking to studying.)

A Good First Step:

The value of a college degree could be immediately enhanced by chunking the undergraduate requirements.  Giving young people two years of their lives back is a better deal for everyone who doesn’t stand to make money from the proliferation of unnecessary college courses.


* A lot of people have told me that college was where they found themselves.  I tend to believe that the “finding” has more to do with a natural maturation process than a location.