For years, I've brought to readers' attention the work others have done identifying and describing what goes on in "higher" education's subprime party schools and dropout factories, and sharing the outrage I've seen about the ways in which such institutions shortchange young people already behind in the positional rat race.

Earlier this summer, I brought to your attention a report from Third Way asserting that three-quarters of the private non-profit colleges and universities rated as dropout factories.
In case anybody wonders why U.S. News sells those rankings, the answer is in the first sentence of the excerpt.  Dip into the Third Way report, and you see that inter alia Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia offer students of modest means good value for money, if they get in.  For many of the students on the margins of educational success, that's not an option, and there's the intake of Distressed Material for the dropout factories.
Now comes their latest report (via Ed Driscoll on Insta Pundit,) this time detailing the public colleges and universities, and it's not for the faint of heart.  "A shocking 85% of four-year public colleges and universities would be considered dropout factories if they were held to the same standards as our nation’s high schools."

Let us count the ways in which things go wrong.
  1. Low Graduation Rates for First-Time, Full-Time Students.
  2. Poor Wage Outcomes for Loan-Holding Students.
  3. Not all Public Schools are Created Equal.
  4. Pell Students Tend to Be Concentrated at the Schools with the Worst Outcomes.
  5. Price has Little Relationship to Outcomes. 
Unfortunately, the policy recommendations are thin gruel.  "The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act provides an opportunity for our leaders to ensure that taxpayer investments in higher education are accompanied by a renewed promise from institutions that students who enter their campuses will leave with a diploma in hand and the skills they need to secure a well-paying job in today’s modern economy."

Until somebody, whether of Third Way, or one of the legacy political parties, or of the pantheon of action figures, does something about the ways in which the vulgar common culture render young people as incapable of college long before they leave middle school, beating up on the colleges and universities for not doing more with the Distressed Material will make the beaters-up feel better, to little good effect.

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