Friday, February 26, 2010

To College or Not To College?

Some good questions from Ponnuru.

Here's one:

But does that mean that we should help more kids go to college — or that we should make it easier for people who didn't go to college to make a living?

HT: St Louis


Jerome said...

For a long time the college degree has been treated as a necessary addendum to a HS diploma. Getting that degree has also had a lot to do with the declining birth rate in the US.

Leaving aside issues like "having children implies a hope for the future", things college does are:
* Take people away from immediately earning a living right out of HS.
* Make people defer starting a family, right when they have (nearly so) peak fertility and the desire to start having children. If you think of the years from (end of HS --> start of menopause) as a factor towards family size, then having fewer of these years just has to figure into decreasing the chance of larger families.
* Burden people with college loans. Interested couples will be tempted to both work at jobs to pay them down, further delaying the start of families.
* Learning to 'play about' while in college, decreasing the coupling between "satisfying sexual needs" and "doing it in a marriage".

These are intended consequences, no?

Jerome said...


I said 'intended' consequences. I meant 'unintended'.

But the slip is, perhaps, asking a needed question.

David B said...

You left out
1. 4 - 6 years of not paying taxes
2. 4 - 6 years of not adding to the GDP
3. 4 - 6 years of not contributing to Social Security
4. Some will major in Journalism (which means for most 72 years of not producing anything of value)

grumps said...

So how do you make it easier for people with no degrees to earn a living?

Better, stronger Unions?

Higher minimum wages?

More public training programs aimed at skill building?

You left out the most basic question, of course. Are the skills taught in college more than just technical. wage-earning skills? Do the thinking skills taught in college lead to a better informed, stronger country?

The anti-intellectual bent on this country is showing again.

Dad29 said...

Grumpy, do I have to tell you everything?

In the 1960's (or so), it became fashionable to require a college degree for such positions as 'customer service,' 'purchasing agent,' 'sales,' and 'banker.'

At the entry-level, or even at the 5-10 years' experienced level, these positions do not require a college degree. What they require is literacy, the ability to perform elementary calculations, a heaping spoonful of Common Sense, and, generally, the ability to speak clearly, combined with a decent personality.

(So OK, I fail the 'personality' test. So do you.)

Merit-based promotions can follow; it's entirely possible that downstream, one's capabilities at math will need enhancement with a college-level course or two.

But these are mainstream lower-white-collar-level jobs. The most important element for success in each of them is TRAINING from the employer.

A degree in "Business Communications", "Women's Studies", or even in "Liberal Arts" is simply overkill.

The answer to your query lies in the graf above. Try to find it, grumpy.