Educational Futures

Almost half of recent college graduates did not get jobs in their field of choice. The majority of these underemployed appear to work in the retail or restaurant industries. Among those working in the retail industry, 78 percent had desired to enter a different industry prior to graduating. Similarly, 81 percent of those graduates working in the restaurant industry had wanted to enter a different industry. This study once again showed that many of our recent graduates are currently underutilized.

McKinsey on Young College Graduates,” Will Kimball

When I worked at a public university I was always surprised to find so many professors in favor of raising tuition. Not all of them would admit it, but the consensus seemed to be that the more expensive an education becomes, the better the students. Many professors would rather send off the difficult students to the community colleges– or to a poorly paid job– than have to deal with trying to teach them.

Some students, it was commonly said, are simply not college material. The real issue isn’t about who can or cannot learn; it’s about money and time. The less well-prepared students are more expensive in every way. They need more personal attention, which means smaller class sizes, and it can be a challenge to convince them that learning is worth the time and effort. Too many people think it’s just not worth it.

This CEPR report worries me because some people will use it to argue that too many people are going to college; that college is too expensive given that we don’t need as many graduates as we already have, and so on. It’s the classic reactionary push against social progress. Maybe (now that the debt crisis is over) we ought to be expanding those fields– research, science, education itself– that require a college degree.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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