Not everyone should go to college

Not everyone should go to college

Economist Thomas Sowell has some difficult words for those who decry the rising cost of college. Rather than offer a blanket criticism of “greedy” colleges or issue a challenge for Congress to increase grants and funding for student loans, he suggests that maybe fewer people should be going to college. He suggests that sending kids to colleges, especially when you use taxpayer funds to do it, shifts the burden of paying for that college onto the whole of society, diverting limited resources.

How many people would go to college if they had to pay the real cost of all the resources taken from other parts of the economy? Probably a lot fewer people.

Moreover, when paying their own money, there would probably not be nearly as many people parting with hard cash to study feel-good subjects with rap sessions instead of serious study.

There would probably be fewer people lingering on campus for the social scene or as a refuge from adult responsibilities in the real world.

Some may accuse Sowell of elitism, but I think he’s just anti-dilettantism; opposed to the frivolous waste of scarce resources on kids who spend four years partying, copulating, protesting, and taking the equivalent of “basket-weaving” classes. I agree with him.

Job application creep has pushed companies to require bachelor’s degrees for work that a skilled— as in properly educated — high school graduate could do. I’ve mentioned before that our local state college offers a degree in pool management.I’m not kidding. Somebody is getting soaked (pun intended) and among them are the students and their parents paying for this, as well as the Massachusetts taxpayers.

Note: Sowell continues his analysis in Part II and Part III. In Part III, he addresses the argument that because college costs so much we need government subsidies by pointing out that colleges can charge so much because they know the government will subsidize it. It’s a vicious circle.


Written by
Domenico Bettinelli