10.8.04

HOW OTHERS SEE US. The secret is out. Jeff at Conservative Book Club (this may be for members only) argues,
Make no mistake, the Left dominates academia as much as it does the media. But that wouldn't be possible without the herdlike submission of American parents, who more than ever seem willing to saddle themselves and their children with massive long-term debt in exchange for what is increasingly a worse than worthless miseducation.

Why do they do it? Let's be honest: it has little to do with the pursuit of wisdom. The main motive is money; or, if you prefer, "opportunity." Parents are convinced that an expensive degree from a "good" (read: prestigious) school is the price of admission to the upper middle class. It hardly matters what students actually learn -- or don't learn.

There's some validity to that view, of course: where you went to college does matter to most white-collar employers. But only at the outset: while it may be enough to get you an interview, or even a job offer, over someone else, after that the advantages cease. Which is why a long-term Princeton study of young men with equivalent SAT scores found that those who attended more selective schools out-earned those who didn't only in the first few years after college; the gap quickly narrowed and soon disappeared. (I only wish the study had included men with equivalent scores who didn't go to college at all: my guess is they'd have done just as well, long-term, as the others.) And the irony is, the ones with the initial economic advantage of a prestige degree probably spent it all, and then some, just paying off their larger student loans.

Personally, I think the days of even that initial advantage are numbered. With so many qualified students being priced out of the "better" schools, and so many unqualified students being recruited to promote "diversity," it can't be long before employers begin to notice that where -- or even whether -- one went to college is no longer a reliable indicator of intelligence, aptitude, or even minimal literacy. At which time the whole house of cards will collapse. God speed the day, I say.

Until then, what should parents do? Well, there's no one solution, but here's what I'm doing. With the first of five closely spaced children due to enter college in September, we applied only to schools we felt we could afford with little or no borrowing (state schools, mainly), plus a few that offered merit-based four-year scholarships.

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