Can College Have Bad Effects?

George Leef

A reader who commented on my recent assertion that college doesn’t necessarily teach students good traits like responsibility and perseverance brought to my attention a study released in 2008 finding that “college-bound youth report lower levels of criminal activity and substance abuse during adolescence compared to non-college-bound youth. However, levels of drinking, property theft, and unstructured socializing with friends increase among the college-bound after enrollment at a four-year university, and they surpass the rates of less-educated peers.”

Here’s a link to the study entitled “Juvenile Delinquency, College Attendance and the Paradoxical Role of Higher Education in Crime and Substance Use." 

The upshot seems to be that while many students learn little or nothing of value during their college experience, a fair number of them acquire some bad traits. Put a lot of academically disengaged, fun-seeking kids together and that outcome seems more than believable; almost inevitable, I’d say.

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