US college enrollment plummets to lowest level in 50 years

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Dustin, Jan 13, 2022.

  1. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    We lost more than a million students from the 2020 peak.

    I wonder if high tuition rates are leading that? The kids my kids know who are getting ready for college have a major fear of debt and seem to have internalized the lessons that the Millennials experienced first-hand, about college not automatically leading to a good job in the absence of some specific training.
    chrisjm18 likes this.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    A bachelor's degree used to be a golden ticket to a job guarantee, but not anymore.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I have to think the same dynamics afoot in the "Great Resignation" are creating this phenomenon, too. Many people are re-examining their relationship with work and careers. It would seem reasonable that some are also reconsidering school.

    When was that? In 1980, when I briefly switched from active duty to the Reserve, I had a bachelor's in business and was a veteran at 21. No one was lining up to give me a job. It must have been before then.
    MasterChief likes this.
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    It surely doesn't help that it's become something of an idea virus on the right to reject the value proposition of higher education.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  5. Rachel83az

    Rachel83az Well-Known Member

    I think the only time when a degree automatically got you a job was pre-1960 (or so), when there were fewer college graduates. The ones that were graduates would likely have had a lot of connections either through being in the military or having come from a wealthy family. The connections probably helped more than the degree itself did.
    mintaru, Johann and Rich Douglas like this.
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Agreed. It was also a bifurcator in society. By the time I got into the degree-seeking business, however, it had also become a ticket up and out. It certainly was mine.

    I think your estimated demarcation of 1960 (or so) is pretty dead-on. The '60s were a time of revolution in this country, including higher education. And I'm not just talking about student protests, SDS, Kent State, etc. With both the Civil Rights and Women's movements in full-swing, entities like the Carnegie Commission and the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities were fired up to challenge old ways of thinking about learning, granting credit, and earning degrees.
    mintaru, Johann and Rachel83az like this.
  7. nomaduser

    nomaduser Active Member

    But still a Computer Science degree will give you job positions faster ...

    No kidding...
  8. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Right, no guarantee any more - by a long shot. But there are lots of folks who see it as a negative guarantee - that you WON'T get any kind of livable job if you lack one. In fact, credential creep has already caused some to regard the Master's as the new High School diploma.

    "20 years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift..." - Bob Dylan
    ---and he wrote that in the 60s!
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    On average, college graduates (bachelor's) earn weekly about 65% more than high school grads. Now, we can all agree that there is plenty of variance in those two figures. But that doesn't make them meaningless. So, yes, you might have a plumber making more than a lawyer. But lawyers make more than plumbers. (Note the plural.)

    Master's degree holders make, on average, about 20% more than those with a bachelor's degree. And even though some of you out there who like to bash people who earn a doctorate and work at Starbucks (as if that was really a thing), doctorate holders make, on average, almost 25% more than master's grads.

    Again, one can argue all day about the master's-level engineer out-earning the PhD in Literature. We get it.

    David Hapgood talked about the "credential creep" issue in his book, Diplomaism. That was published in 1971! Maybe its time to accept that the phenomenon has been with us for a very long time and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's very real, almost too real to ignore.
    Dustin and Rachel83az like this.
  10. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I'll readily accept the info Rich kindly provided on averages. And, like all averages, they are made up of a lot of variance, much of it significant data in and of itself.

    This collection cited below is, I admit, biased. Its site name, "the Ivy Lie" blatantly advertises that fact. But the people and their problems DO exist. They are a "thing." We DO know that PhDs on food stamps are a thing - we've had threads (with stats) on that fact alone in the past. And, if not Doctorates, you can certainly find Master's holders working at Starbucks. I've read of a few tonight - and I'm not suggesting they're the norm - These instances are not necessarily the fault of 'credential creep.' I believe that more often, they may be the problem of grads who either pick a field that doesn't have bright employment prospects after graduation - or those who find their formal education left them unprepared to handle 'real world' work in their chosen field.

    This is one collection of instances - there are plenty of others. As I mentioned, if not doctorates, there seems at least to be a significant number of Master's degree holders working at Starbucks and the like for maybe $8 an hour or so. Some (as here) grads of the "best" schools. Rich is right (again) - credential inflation is hard to ignore. And so are these people, others in the same plight -- and their stories.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
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  11. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    The skills mismatch is frustrating. I tell anyone who will listen that volunteering has done more for my career than paid work has, because it's enabled me to move into new areas that I wouldn't have otherwise. If you have a Bachelor's degree in History from Yale (for example), you have a lot of great writing, research and analytical skills that are valuable. If you've never had to demonstrate that outside of a classroom, though, it can be tough to convince an employer to take a chance on you.
    Rachel83az likes this.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is in the eye of the beholder, certainly. But I tend to look at norms, not anecdotes, and I doubt this is a widespread phenomenon. That's why I use numbers and (as I did in my post) acknowledge variance.

    (NB: When comparing two samples to determine if they are statistically significant to indicate they're two different populations--like people at different degree levels--the three indicators we use are sample size, means, and variance (as measured by standard deviation). We don't have those figures, and we inherently acknowledge that not all degrees at each level are the same, but broad generalizations can be reliably drawn.

    Anecdotes, on the other hand, prove very little BECAUSE so much variability occurs among them--and examples distinguished from them. This is where qualitative methods can prove to be very helpful in understanding a phenomenon, because those methods reveal deep stories from which understandings can be drawn.

    A handful of (largely) apocryphal statements doesn't cut it. Whether or not a couple (or some) examples constitute "a thing" is strictly in the eye of the beholder since it is a term of art, not science. But I used it because this is a conversation, not a thesis.
    mintaru and MasterChief like this.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is straight-up true. But it's important to see things from THEIR perspective, rather than projecting our values onto them. (Still, even from their perspective you'll find plenty of sad stories.)
    mintaru and MasterChief like this.

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