College in America is a uniquely corrupt industry that exploits the mediocre middle… people who aren’t smart or responsible enough for small percentage of college degrees/programs that are financially justifiable.
Many of the most talented can or do skip it entirely but most people need the degree to validate them to future employers and even potential romantic relationships.
But colleges do not provide notable value given the government subsidy of student loans. Most college degrees end up as an albatross. The top tier don’t need college or they get maximum value from it. The degree largely serves the upper-middle… people who are smart or hardworking but not exceptional. We can call this the “consulting class.”
It’s the middle… that’s who colleges really target. It’s a demo of people who are sufficiently irresponsible or dimwitted that they’ll take on maximal debt for minimal gain. They’ll spend more years to get their worthless degree and thus more debt. They think it will validate them… but it doesn’t and colleges know it.
What American universities do today is mine the mediocre middle for money.
Those people aren’t necessarily mediocre everywhere… just as students. That doesn’t mean they don’t have value but college ensures that most of them won’t find their place to maximize their contributions and benefit from that. Instead, they’ll be stuck with their useless degree that they have to justify and their loans they have to pay off. Thus, they can’t start a family or a business of their own or find their talents… they’re too busy doing grunt work at some corporations.
If you want to reform higher education, making this transparent to people would be a good start. Then perhaps policy can shift to change the perverse incentives in the student loan industry and then maybe colleges can return to doing what they’re best at to the benefit of all.
Suffice to say, today’s “higher education” system is a cruel and exploitative racket. We can’t reform or improve it until we make that clear.