Defenders of the higher ed establishment keep trying to defend their turf by arguing that statistical evidence proves that we need to put more people through college (Obama insists that we need to lead the world in that metric by 2020) because workers with higher levels of formal education generally earn more than do workers with lower levels. Recently SHEEO published a study showing how, in every state, higher levels of education correlate with higher incomes. While that’s true, it doesn’t follow that any of the lower wage workers would have better-paying jobs if they had gotten college credentials. In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, Jenna Robinson and I take a critical look at the SHEEO study and find that its conclusions do not logically follow from its premises.
To a large extent, the demand for college comes from the perception that there is a causal link: If you get a college degree, then you will find a good job. That was never strictly true, but decades ago, before college became a virtual entitlement for everyone, the correlation was pretty strong. Now that we have a surfeit of people holding college degrees (but often no more than a weak high school education), it’s time to abandon the idea that higher education is the path to success.