Too Many Kids Go To College

Airs Sunday at 6AM on 93.9 FM

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

(Intelligence Squared US)

Student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt, unemployment for those with bachelor’s degrees is at an all-time high, and entrepreneurs like the founders of Facebook and Microsoft prove that extraordinary success is possible without it. But recent studies show that college is economically beneficial even to those whose jobs don’t require it. The debaters are Peter Thiel, Charles Murray, Vivek Wadhwa, and Henrey Bienen. 

Comments [1]

Kathleen from New York City

If you think education is problematic, try ignorance. Never have I heard such a venal debate based on such expedient values about the purpose of higher education. It is true that in America, higher education has gotten too expensive. But that is not the fault of the universities; it the fault of the way our culture is willing to support education.

To frame the task of a Bachelor’s degree as job training is to miss the whole point of what higher education does. Democracy depends on an informed, reflective, educated public. In the world of global growth, conflict, development we need more not less understanding, more history, more literature, more abilities to understand cultures not our own, more understanding of the health of our planet, more economic analysis, more critical thinking, not less.
We know, for example, that when women are educated, more of them practice birth control. We hope that if men become educated they will feel less need to oppress women.
How can democracy function if citizens do not read widely, know how to analyze claims, conduct research, and look for underlying causes? It would be wonderful if students learned all this in the first 12 years of school. But in fact, such depth, breadth and the development of wisdom takes a maturity that few teen agers are able to sustain. Not to mention the economic and social problems that plunge entire neighborhoods into poverty.

If our attitude is that the main task of a BA education is professional training, which can be done more cheaply in certificate programs, then we are asking for, at best, a docile, easily manipulated, uncurious citizenry who will believe anything so long as the get a regular pay check and at worst, increasing failure, despair, anger and social unrest.

Instead of discarding the notion of higher liberal arts education the debate should center on how to make more if it accessible to more people.
A Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Science is still the gold standard of an educated citizenry capable of facing the challenges of our future.

BTW the snotty remark that in Podunk State University students are not even reading real psychology theory or original Shakespeare is so blindly uninformed that I ‘m surprised anyone would allow this man to speak on the state of education in America ever again. At least take a look at syllabi in even those Podunk universities he so disdainfully dismisses.

Nov. 13 2011 12:09 PM

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