Interesting and rather sad article from the Atlantic on the ways middle class parents frequently find their children slipping. Once upon a time, hard working and enterprising young men could find jobs. Today, they are shut out by a combination of globalization, large scale immigration, the increasing efficiency of manufacturing, and the false hopes of debt-laden credentialism. The increasing pressure to obtain credentials, as if a college education obtained by someone with a 100ish IQ really means anything, creates a double bind: large levels of nondischargable debt and false hopes of a rise into the middle class.
It would be no small benefit if Americans and their employers started to view college degrees with a lot more suspicion when it comes to whom they hire. The degree adds little, and the type, while showing the valuable trait of stick-to-it-ness, also shows the less valuable trait of jumping through hoops unimaginitively. It would be far better if most people just started working rather than pretending their down market diplomas were worth the trouble. America would be just fine with fewer communications and packaging majors. And this would free up money, energy, and entrepreneurship far more than the stay-in-school-until-you’re-30 message we often hear growing up. It made sense for those Baby Boomers selling the formula of their youth, but now it’s just as often an albatross that has very little value added. Plus it tends to encourage a play-it-safe set of rules that men in particular do not benefit from, nor does the economy as a whole, as the drive, risk-taking, and energy of yesteryear are often stifled by the debt and conformity mandated by decades of higher education.
I say all this, incidentally, as someone that loved school and learning. I have a graduate degree, and I studied liberal arts as an undergraduate. But it should be plain that this path is not for everyone, and students, schools, and society as a whole are hurt by hammering all these square pegs into the round hole of credentialism.