The Associated Press ran a story last week begging the question, College for All? Experts Say bit Necessarily
Richard Vedder blames the cultural notion of "credential inflation" for the stream of unqualified students into four-year colleges. His research has found that the number of new jobs requiring college degrees is less than number of college graduates.The New York Times' Jacques Steinberg wrote a provocative piece over the weekend entitled, Plan B: Skip College. Several other major outlets picked up on the story, including the SF Chronicle.
Vedder's work also yielded something surprising: The more money states spend on higher education, the less the economy grows — the reverse of long-held assumptions.
"If people want to go out and get a master's degree in history and then cut down trees for a living, that's fine," he said, citing an example from a recent encounter with a worker. "But I don't think the public should be subsidizing it."
“It is true that we need more nanosurgeons than we did 10 to 15 years ago,” said Professor Vedder, founder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a research nonprofit in Washington. “But the numbers are still relatively small compared to the numbers of nurses’ aides we’re going to need. We will need hundreds of thousands of them over the next decade.”
And much of their training, he added, might be feasible outside the college setting.
Professor Vedder likes to ask why 15 percent of mail carriers have bachelor’s degrees, according to a 1999 federal study.
“Some of them could have bought a house for what they spent on their education,” he said.