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Friday, July 1, 2011

Nothing Hurts the Assumption of College Usefulness More Than the Assumption of College Usefulness (#unrules49)

Unschooling Rules 49 (#unrules49) is, "College is the hardest no-win decision your family may ever make."

See all college posts here: and the posts around

John Stossel is adding to the debate, saying college a scam for many: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1032356599001/stossel-college-a-scam-for-many/, pointing to high drop out rates and useless curricula.

Another argument is even more simple: the cost of college has outpaced inflation for over thirty years, with no end in sight. Unless you believe that college is infinitely valuable, at some point, necessarily, the cost of college will be greater than what it delivers.

And as with so many school related problems, the wounds are self-inflicted, and often the result of inter-school arms-races. University A "has" to put plasma televisions in the student lounge because University B just did.

One technique to ignore the cost of college for a while has been debt financing. But now a story in the International Business Times has the appropriate headline "Student debt crisis threatens US economy." This shell game may be coming to an end.

Having said that, the value of college degrees are artificially propped up by discriminatory corporate hiring practices. Many of the best entry and even mid-level jobs assume a college degree, despite the dubious connection between the skills bestowed by many colleges and the skills required in the job itself.

If you believe the current situation is unsustainable, given these factors, what do you think will happen:

A) The U.S. government will finance more programs to allow students to pay back debt over longer and longer periods, covering up the problem for another generation?

B) Degree discrimination will become illegal as a hiring practice?

C) Colleges will control and lower costs on their own, as a result of ethics and/or competition?

See also:


  1. I think A, unfortunately. I agree that jobs should be based on someone's ability to perform the job not a degree. There are some very smart, capable people who do not have college degrees and likewise, there are some people with college degrees who are clueless and lack a work ethic.

    I think options B & C are much better options, but unfortunately, I think A is what will happen in the US, given our political system with liberals favoring social programs and conservatives favoring corporate hiring practices.

  2. I think you are right, Theresa. But I suspect at some point there will be a health-care like realization that we just can't afford what we think we want

  3. Maybe the Higher Education System will be the next economic bubble to pop. If so, the answer is D) Due to a shrinking economy and job market, Americans get re-acquainted with thriftiness and self-reliance, which creates an explosion in the number of self-taught entrepreneurs and self-employed workers. This inspires a majority of the next generation of would-be university students to forgo college, which sets college attendance back 100 years.

  4. I like D! I like D!!

  5. @Roy - Great point. The health care conversation today seems to pale compared to the school costs.

    @Sam(antha)- Me too!

  6. Here is a link to a small bit of video of Bill Gates discussing education and how technology will bring down the cost of college.

  7. It's education inflation, not just in terms of money!