Kent Pitman argues that college is overpriced. Perhaps the way out — freedom from needing to go to college to get a decent job — will look like this:
1. American colleges adopt gap years. (I proposed this to the Chancellor of UC Berkeley. My suggestion was brushed aside — impractical, I was told.)
2. A larger and larger fraction of students realize that they can profitably continue to do what they do during the gap year. So they don’t go to college.
3. Given a substantial number in both categories, businesses notice that students who haven’t gone to college (who have, equating for age, more useful skills) do better than those that have. I’ve heard complaints about Ivy League graduates not knowing basic stuff.
4. With less demand for college, there is less demand for college teachers. This causes research universities to shrink because, with less use for a Ph.D, they won’t be able to attract as many graduate students. Harvard is out in front here.
Just as the Pentagon is a tax on women (because the military is almost all men), so are colleges a tax on everyone who isn’t a professor. (It’s an arms race because if your competitor for a job has gone to college, so must you.) As the American economy implodes — in In The Jaws of the Dragon, Eamonn Fingleton says the rate of American decline has no historical precedent — non-professors and non-professors-to-be will become less willing to pay this tax.