Supply and Demand

Here is a shocking idea. People get college degrees because graduates are valued. This leads to parents sending more kids to college who get degrees. Eventually higher education reaches the point where the overabundance of graduates decreases the value of a degree.

Weak students have been admitted for years. Universities struggle to identify who will become the strong students so the net is cast a little wider than it ideally would be. The weak students drop out of school. Somehow it became the school’s fault the weak students were dropouts. So people scrutinize retention numbers and implemented programs to identify the under performing students and help them graduate. Now the schools are at fault for letting so many people graduate.

This concept that a college degree didn’t automatically prepare me for a job was brow beat into me by my advisor my freshman year of college over a decade ago. The prescription then was to spend every summer working an internship so I would have experience upon graduating. Of course, my major at the time was engineering where only the retirement or death of Baby Boomers would result in getting a job.

Naturally if most to all college freshman are getting experience for graduation, then that means employers will need to find something else to still be selective.

I’m tempted to make the same mistake as the Social Darwinists: Over time kids will have to get more and more education in order to be competitive. For my grandparents, 8th grade was the baseline of education to get a decent job. For my parents, a high school diploma became the new baseline. For me it was a bachelor’s degree. For the kids born today will it be a Master’s degree? This reminds me of the Red Queen concept in that one has to perform faster and better just remain in place.

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