Sunday, June 13, 2010

Higher education's bubble is about to burst

Glenn Reynolds: Higher education's bubble is about to burst | Washington Examiner

I'm going to start off here by pointing out that I do have a post-secondary degree, and that I'm not an uneducated bum. My degree, as Captain Capitalism so elegantly puts it, is not one that leaves me jobless, realistically, at any point in my life, and especially now that I am self-employed.

I'm also going to point out that I didn't set foot in a university in order to get this degree - it was all done by correspondence while I've been a full-time member of the workforce since I graduated high school so long ago.

My reasons for getting there in this way are simple - after 13 years of full time school, I wasn't ready to spend 4 more years studying full time. I also was aware of the fluff classes that universities force on their students in order to make money and "round out" their education, and didn't want to pursue those courses which didn't seem to be necessary to my career. Some may roll their eyes at this point, others may understand this point all too well. As a result, I got the best of both worlds - I am educated and I have experience in my field. I'm one of the lucky ones.

Knowing what I do, I understand what the value of a proper education is. I always have, my education has been an investment and not a cost. From this perspective, I also know that the burst of the education bubble will be a good thing for society as a whole. Not necessarily because it would denote a lack of education within the population, but because it would represent a shift towards being taught useful workplace skills in post-secondary education not fluffy-bunny utopian ideals by a professor whose only skills are that he can regurgitate what his own profs said.

Realistically, there are a lot of jobs and careers in today's world which are filled by university graduates who don't have to BE a university graduate to do the job. There are fields of study in university which are limited to a small number of graduates per year for no other reason than to manage the supply of those educations in the market place. There are many university students studying in fields which make them all but unemployable in the current marketplace, and it's only going to get worse.

This is why it heartens me that the bubble is about to burst. It heartens me because the more people choose an option other than a university education (unless they have to), the less kids choose to go to university to "find themselves", and the less that those students find that they can perform most of the careers that they desire with a simple technical school degree, the more valuable a university degree will become because they will be forced to change from a collection of narrow fields of study in Arts which teach no career-useful skills to a single Liberal Arts education which rounds out the person's education and makes them more valuable to the world as a whole.

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