Is It Fair to Call It a Scam?

Professor Richard Vedder is certainly one of the most knowledgeable — and wisest – commentators on American higher education. So his cautionary remarks should be taken very seriously.
I have one reservation about calling the push for more colleges a “scam.” It is true that some youngsters knew all through college that they wanted to be physicians or lawyers and consequently their first jobs reflected their career objectives. However, many college graduates graduate without a clear notion of what they want to do occupationally or even personally. Some work for a couple of years for Teach for America without planning a lifetime career as teachers. Some take jobs as waiters or waitresses while their career aspirations lie in acting or art, careers notoriously difficult to enter. Therefore I hesitate to interpret several years of low-paid jobs that college graduates as a disconnect between what is learned at college and what college graduates do occupationally in their first jobs. Getting back to teaching, it might be excellent for American education have primary- and secondary-school students taught for four or five years by college graduates who lack teaching experience but have the attractive enthusiasm of youth even though they and their colleagues know that they do not plan to be career teachers. If we keep in mind the difference between “jobs” and “careers,” the fact that college graduates take low-level jobs in the years immediately following graduation is not necessarily a failure of college education or of the graduates themselves.

Jackson Toby

Jackson Toby

Jackson Toby is professor of sociology emeritus at Rutgers University, where he was director of the Institute for Criminological Research. He is an Adjunct Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *