As I mentioned in an earlier post, the local university is transitioning to a trimester system so that students can theoretically obtain their bachelor’s degree in three years. This is a bit of a misnomer, because there are certain degrees where that’s likely to be impossible, given the technical content and other requirements, and the university is soft-pedalling those possibilities for the moment.

One of the other aspects of this “degree speed up” that bothers me, and more than a few in the higher education community, is that the push for getting degrees faster represents the commodification of higher education and the fact that the emphasis is getting to be more and more upon the degree as a credential. In turn, these forces represent a growing mindset that having that degree is a guarantee of a better job and higher income.

While statistics show that this correlation was true in the past, there’s an old saying that correlation is not causation.

The fact is that higher education represents an opportunity for economic and personal improvement, but even in the past it was not an absolute guarantee of either, or necessarily of economic success. Today, and in the years to come, with the growing glut of college degrees among the younger generation, blanket economic opportunity for degree holders is certainly not guaranteed. Some studies indicate that, today, there are twice as many college graduates each year as there are jobs for them that require a college degree. After WW II, by comparison, only about ten percent of high school graduates received a degree, while now seventy percent of all high school graduates go to college, and four in ten Americans have at least an undergraduate degree.

The one guarantee that does exist is that those Americans without either higher education or specialized technical or trade training will be largely frozen out of decent-paying occupations, but with the growing number of college graduates, the increase in computerization and automation of many former white collar jobs, the number of higher paying jobs is not growing nearly as fast as the number of graduates seeking those jobs.

And that means that a college education isn’t nearly the guarantee of economic and professional success it once was, and far less of a guarantee than people now believe. It’s more like a high-priced gamble where the odds are only slightly in favor of the degree holder.

9 thoughts on “Guarantee?”

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    Insofar as it’s still thought to document having learned skills, principles, and be demanding enough to require discipline, a degree should continue to help; but the moment employers start to believe that the main takeaway is learning how to game the system, the advantage will diminish; because that’s neither a productive skill for anything honest, nor one in short supply regardless of educational level – every government entitlement program teaches that as a supposedly unintended side-effect.

  2. Tim says:

    It is odd that in the UK there are a lot of graduates without work yet trying to get a builder, electrician or tree surgeon is almost impossible.

    Here in Suffolk, England there is a significant shortage of people with practical skills.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Not enough people want to do that work. Maybe it doesn’t pay well enough, or maybe they just don’t want the physical exertion and/or wear and tear. (I’ve done mostly technical work, but when much younger, was not averse to a part-time job moving office furniture; and between good jobs, did a year of warehouse work, fast food, etc. In other words, I’ll do what I have to, or what gives me extra pocket money or even keeps me from being bored, but I’d rather use my head than my hands.)

      My personal opinion is of course that before importing semi-skilled labor, we should withdraw all welfare benefits from everyone that’s able, and and jail any resulting resulting rioters. There is work; so if you’re able, work or starve; and if you don’t like the work, improve yourself. I just don’t see the obligation to keep willful parasites alive, let alone comfortable.

      1. Derek says:

        Comparing humans to parasites reveals more about you than the people you’re making a comparison of…

        1. JerryChops says:

          I’m actually with R on this one. If you don’t contribute then perish or reach a point where you can contribute.

          Those with physical disabilities can still contribute. As long as you still have your mind you can work.

          1. Tom says:

            In the USA there should be the opportunity to volunteer in a new office of the Department of Homeland Security (an Einsatzgruppen), as Miller and Trump do lean towards this sort of concept (a sort of Tiergartenstraße 4) for our society.

        2. R. Hamilton says:

          Being human may in some ineffable sense be of great value. But in any practical sense, there’s no shortage of humans overall, so if they can but won’t support themselves, how is “parasite” inaccurate? A parasite is a creature (excepting offspring) that lives off of another/others in a relationship that’s not of mutual advantage. It may be unPC to call unproductive malcontent humans “parasites”, but so long as they have a choice and opportunity, even if challenging, to be something more, I really don’t care whether their delicate sensibilities (or anyone else’s) are offended.

          If you’re alive and somewhat functional, then persecution or injustice clearly hasn’t killed you yet, so I just don’t see the point in free stuff for everybody whether they work or not.

          Even without government, you or I or anyone with the means is of course free to assist whoever they wish!

  3. Tom says:

    Having vented:

    A reminder of what is unemployment might be in order e.g.

    I would suggest that a philosophical approach might be of interest if one considers willingness to work or not as a form of disability (both mind and/or body), e.g.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Nothing a nominal adult chooses to do should be paid for by society; the consequences should be 100% on them. Except if their choice inherently puts costs on others, then the negative consequences should be sent back their way, amplified.

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