At the Republican Party convention, Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan made a comment politicos noticed: “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” Jason Fertig responds at NRO:
“…I’d rather tell unemployed graduates that employers throwing $50,000 per year jobs at applicants with no experience is a relic of the past. Many overcredentialed and inexperienced college grads need to realize that they possibly made a mistake by getting a degree that is not in high demand. But, so what. They can learn and grow from that realization. At some point, many grads need that tough message of ‘starting at the bottom and learning a business will not doom you to underemployment.'”I’m from Wisconsin. I have nothing but glowing reviews for Ryan. And his point stands. But, as the chattersphere does, it’s capitalized on the surface idea—here’s an ad that recently came out—while ignoring deeper and better observations about the connection between college and work (or the lack thereof). There is lots of evidence that young people like me feel entitled to college. Hark back to the “give us free college” theme of Occupy Wall Street, or the college student tuition riots that pop up regularly (currently, it’s in California and Canada). I think college entitlement is also a factor in so many students taking out big loans for frivolous degrees. Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein pointed out several years ago that only about a fifth of the population is intellectually capable of college-level work. The most recent data shows 68 percent of high school graduates attend college (about a quarter of students do not graduate high school). So almost half of college students can’t do college-level work (which recent ACT scores bear out). What happens to them? Typically, they attend low level colleges—and often drop out. They buy lies, which the economy supported for a while, about how college will magically produce a life of wealth and consequent happiness, and trudge off to four-year parties aided by tax dollars and “increasing college access” mandates. The mismatch has degraded college education, and high school education, even as it shunts many into dropping out, degree-less and likely tens of thousands in debt. Nearly half of college students drop out, and 71 percent of community college students drop out. These are lies young people (and our parents) want to believe, and plenty of colleges and politicians are happy to perpetrate the myth. Who doesn’t want something for nothing, or something disproportionately bigger than the effort and intellectual capital invested? Given our nature, few are likely to assess themselves and think, “College is probably beyond my work ethic and capabilities.” This same human nature makes old folks believe Social Security and Medicare can continue paying them more than they put into it at ever-proportionately-earlier retirement ages while young folks enslave themselves to fill the national debt black hole. As Nick Eberstadt describes, these kinds of entitlements are corrupting us—and Paul Ryan was right to call us to a better path.