Overinvesting in Higher Education by Richard Vedder in the NY TImes (A Room for Debate Opinion piece) says:
It used to be that a college degree was a ticket to a prosperous upper-middle-class life. As the number of college graduates has grown faster than the number of relatively high paying jobs, more college graduates are not achieving the goal of getting relatively high paid jobs. Now merely having a degree is not enough — a student needs a quality degree.
How is it that we can be over-invested in education? Where is the evidence that we are too smart today. 2 Problems are implied by this statement.
1 If this statement is true – increase educational attainment > the increase in the # of well paying job -, it point to this economics problem. Educational attainment does not lead to economic development. (Remember the US Clinton White House election Rule #1 – “It’s the Economy; Stupid”.)
2. If this statement is also true – an increase is degree quality (as measured by institutional status) = an increased access to well paying jobs – it points to this educational problem. Education is less about improving student economic function than it is about signaling class attainment. (Rule #2 When considering non-economic issues, refer to Rule #1.)
Here my main point – Traditional education has always been at least partially about class attainment. If we want to improve functional abilities, the ability to live one’s life, we should update (significantly) and reboot education programming. The education we have previously experienced is not what we need, but this is also true outside of education. It seems more and more that we are moving into a period of sizable disruption.