William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






THE VALUELESS DEGREE – AT 10:36 A.M. ET:   This has been a growing problem for years, but with some colleges charging almost a quarter of a million dollars for a bachelor's degree, it has become a very serious problem.   Companies are requiring college degrees even for menial jobs that, not too long ago, only required high-school diplomas.  From The New York Times:

ATLANTA —The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.

Consider the 45-person law firm of Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh here in Atlanta, a place that has seen tremendous growth in the college-educated population. Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills.

This prerequisite applies to everyone, including the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants and file clerks. Even the office “runner” — the in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and the office — went to a four-year school.

“College graduates are just more career-oriented,” said Adam Slipakoff, the firm’s managing partner. “Going to college means they are making a real commitment to their futures. They’re not just looking for a paycheck.”

Economists have referred to this phenomenon as “degree inflation,” and it has been steadily infiltrating America’s job market. Across industries and geographic areas, many other jobs that didn’t used to require a diploma — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — are increasingly requiring one, according to Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job ads from more than 20,000 online sources, including major job boards and small- to midsize-employer sites.

COMMENT:  I think Mr. Slipakoff is all wet.  It's been my experience, at least in the media field, that companies that require college degrees for basic jobs often do so for the prestige.  They like to say to visitors or potential customers, "Everyone here has a college degree, half from Ivy League schools."  Indeed, the head of a major talent agency said essentially that about his interns some years ago. 

We have vastly oversold the college education, and plunged millions of graduates into debt.  And of our "colleges" are just glorified high schools. 

The education bubble is finally bursting, as more and more families question the value of what they're getting.  Several Republican governors have announced plans to try to create a "$10,000 degree."  More power to them.  They will be opposed by the powerful educational establishment, and alumni associations struggling to maintain the value of their own degrees.  But I think, with the power of the internet and online courses in their hands, they can make great progress.

I'd also like to see increased attention paid to what is being taught to our college students.  That's the real scandal, with some colleges turned into brainwashing factories for the political left.

February 22, 2013