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Are We Overhyping College?

I honestly never thought I'd see the day when an Indian person would argue for less education, but that day has arrived. Conservative pundit...


I honestly never thought I'd see the day when an Indian person would argue for less education, but that day has arrived. Conservative pundit Ramesh Ponnuru writes in the new issue of Time that we may be overselling the idea of higher education to people who don't need it (and won't be particularly good at it).
People who go to college are, on average, smarter than people who don't. In an economy that increasingly rewards intelligence, you'd expect college grads to pull ahead of the pack even if their diplomas signified nothing but their smarts. College must make many students more productive workers. But at least some of the apparent value of a college degree, and maybe a lot of it, reflects the fact that employers can use it as a rough measure of job applicants' intelligence and willingness to work hard.

He argues that online opportunities may be more suited to some students and that certification tests could give prospective employers more useful information for making a hiring decision than whether a person has a college degree or not. He specifically fingers accounting, hotel management, and, um ... er ... journalism as occupations that don't require the four-year college experience.

It's true that not everyone is built to succeed in a four-year program centered around a traditional campus, but I think part of the reason it's oversold is because people really value the time they spend in college-and it's a useful (if not expensive) time to grow and experiment, which would be difficult when trying to maintain a steady paycheck.

Speaking of experimenting, why not encourage people to try out college, but make it less of a stigma for them to conclude that the experience isn't tailored to them?
Photo (cc) by Flickr user Mira (in the wall).

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