The Continuing Crisis of Higher Ed

I’m behind in a roundup of important signs and signals of the crisis engulfing our colleges and universities right now, but there’s one story out this week that deserves flagging for immediate attention:

Two-Thirds of American Employees Regret Their College Degrees

A college education is still considered a pathway to higher lifetime earnings and gainful employment for Americans. Nevertheless, two-thirds of employees report having regrets when it comes to their advanced degrees, according to a PayScale survey of 248,000 respondents this past spring that was released Tuesday.

The story emphasizes student loan debt as the primary driver of this regret. But the story arguably “buries the lede,” which you find when you delve deeper into the survey results:

Most satisfied: Those with science, technology, engineering and math majors, who are typically more likely to enjoy higher salaries, reported more satisfaction with their college degrees. About 42% of engineering grads and 35% of computer science grads said they had no regrets.

Most regrets: Humanities majors, who are least likely to earn higher pay post-graduation, were most likely to regret their college education. About 75% of humanities majors said they regretted their college education. About 73% of graduates who studied social sciences, physical and life sciences, and art also said the same.

I’ve thought for a long time that even the most dense radical professor in the humanities and social sciences would understand that the administrative bloat—especially of the “office of diversity and inclusion” that is now mandatory in every college—is partly responsible for the soaring cost of higher ed, which in turn depresses student interest in taking their courses. But even self-interest can’t penetrate the herd mentality of the campus left. Maybe as more colleges shut their doors (inevitable over the next 10 years) they’ll start to figure it out.

Yes, of course, it might help if so many humanities courses weren’t teaching complete crap, but that’s subject for another day. And this all fits in with my theme that major universities are slowly undergoing a de facto divorce, with the STEM fields and economics cutting themselves loose from the humanities and social sciences into, in effect, two universities—one which will thrive, and the other slowly withering and dying.

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