Steve Postrel, in a recent post on the StrategyProfs.net1, argues that the reason too many students seek degrees and get into debt is because high school just doesn’t offer the same quality of education that it used to.
Postrel points out that the “dumbing down” of education in America over the last decades forces students to get a college degree if they want to be employable – and it all starts in high school.
According to Postrel, a typical graduate of business school has to go through much less rigorous standards in order to graduate when compared to the stringent requirements of ten, twenty or thirty years ago. The same is true for a high school graduate, which has much more serious impact on the employability of a high-school graduate.
He goes on to compare the difference in standards by comparing different literary works. College grads of old could understand literary masters like Milton or Spencer, while today’s grads don’t even know who they are. High school grads of old could understand George Orwell’s Animal Farm while the grads of today can barely get through See Spot Run.
To cut a roundabout story short, the high schools of today produce illiterate babes that employers simply cannot use as they are. These high school grads then have to spend tens of thousands of dollars more for a college degree just to obtain the practical skills that their parents and grandparents earned in their high school years.
And why do we allow this to happen? Simple: we are willing to pay more to learn those basic skills even when it costs an arm and a leg.
The funny thing is that employers are increasingly frustrated at the quality of the employees they hire. There are a lot of unemployed graduates out there looking desperately for jobs, but the employers just can’t find the skill and capability they need to put these grads to productive (and profitable) work.
So what this basically means is that if we as a country want to deal with an alarmingly dangerous pool of unemployed graduates with debt hanging over their necks, we have to go back and improve the quality of education – especially for secondary education.