What's Up With College Dropouts?

In 2016, more than 40% of students who started a four-year program in 2010 had not completed it.

Lewis Morris · Jun. 5, 2018

It’s that time of year again, when college graduates head out into the world to begin new careers, and high-school graduates prepare for college and all the exciting opportunities it will open up for them.

Or so the brochures will tell you.

The fact is, college is becoming a riskier proposition for students and their families with each passing year. The job market for college graduates is extremely competitive, and many young people find themselves settling for jobs outside their field of study. Sometimes, they find themselves taking jobs that they didn’t even need a degree for in the first place just so they can start chipping away at the mountain of debt they took on to pay for that degree.

It makes many parents wonder if college is worth it. A growing number of students have determined that it’s not.

College dropout numbers are rising sharply, according to the American Enterprise Institute. In 2016, more than 40% of all students who started a four-year program in 2010 had not completed it. Put another way, close to two million students who begin college this fall will drop out before they earn a degree. Public two-year colleges have it even worse. Only 26% of full-time, first-time students will complete their degree within three years.

The decreasing likelihood of a college degree paying off and the increasing possibility that a student may not even finish college should make parents wary about blindly submitting their children to the college experience.

Leftists like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have pushed the idea that college is the be-all-end-all for getting ahead in life. The higher education industry (let’s face it, it is an industry) has happily embraced the idea. Together, the Left and colleges and universities, which are overwhelmingly run by the Left, have convinced parents that if their kids don’t go to post-secondary school, then they will be losers. Thus the socialists’ proposal for “free college.”

Leftists want all Americans going through college so that they can be further indoctrinated. The colleges want the money. It’s quite a deal they’ve struck.

Along the way, colleges have milked the federal government, and many states, to subsidize tuition while steadily inflating the cost of an increasingly inferior education. Leftists have turned higher education into an entitlement, arguing that (only) college educated people are good for the country, so the country should help fund their education. And with taxpayers footing the bill, there is no end to how high leftists will push tuition costs. Look at what they’ve done with every other taxpayer-funded entitlement.

Having an educated workforce is good for the economy. People who graduate with a degree in science or engineering are very likely to find work early and contribute significantly to society. But what about those who majored in diversity studies or social justice? Where’s the market for those jobs?

Bryan Caplan, author of The Case Against Education and economics professor at George Mason University, argues that college has become a scam.

“Just because it is lucrative for an individual doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for a country,” Caplan says of college. When most everyone goes to college, “you just raise the bar. Imagine you’re at a concert, and you want to see better. Stand up and of course you’ll see better. But if everyone stands up, you just block each other’s views.”

College graduates are having a tough time finding jobs, but that doesn’t mean that the job market is bad. It just means that all these potential workers are crowding into fields where there’s already a glut of talent.

The manufacturing sector is growing and looking for workers, and these are jobs that can be secured with vocational training that is significantly less costly than a college degree. Learning can be done anywhere at any time.

“If you want to go to Princeton, you don’t have to apply,” says Caplan. “Just move to the town and start attending classes.”

While we don’t necessarily endorse crashing college classes for free, Caplan makes a good point. Information on subjects you want to learn more about can be found online or at the local library or practically anywhere. But college students looking to start a career need to be practical about how they spend their time and money. Go where the jobs are, not where your passion leads you.

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