Last night during his State of the Union address, President Obama repeated his goal to make more Americans graduate from college.
“America,” he said, “has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree.”
But is giving more kids college degrees going to leave them better off? Not likely.
It’s a known fact that college graduates make more over a lifetime than non-college graduates. But gifting people with college degrees doesn’t magically make them successful. And a lot of Americans who would never have gone to college a few years ago are quickly learning that fact.
College students are increasingly racking up debt, and their degrees are increasingly becoming less effective in the job force. Simply put, making it easier to get a college degree doesn’t make it easier to find a job.
And as we noted last week, college kids are apparently learning less than ever. But Obama is continuing to push the idea that we need more college grads. Last night, he reminded everyone that under his watch, the government had “ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students.”
But according to The New York Times:
He was referring to a law passed by Congress in March that redirected tens of billions of dollars from banks to students.
[While the law automatically pegs increases in the popular Pell Grant program to the rate of inflation, my colleagues David M. Herszenhorn and Tamar Lewin wrote at the time that "for individual students, the increase in the maximum Pell grant — to $5,900 in 2019-20, from $5,550 for the 2010-11 school year — is minuscule, compared with the steep, inexorable rise in tuition for public and private colleges alike."]
Of course, promoting better education for the country is a positive thing. But this idea that more kids simply need to go to college is perpetrating the myth that a college degree is a ticket to success, rather than the skills and initiative that successful kids get while they’re there.
What do you think? Am I missing something? Let us know in the comments.
(Photo by YourHomeBaseParties)