Higher Education another bubble waiting to pop

Day 3 of the protest Occupy Wall Street in Man...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next time you throw a BBQ and Mrs. Smith is boring you with another tedious conversation on her son’s college prospects, throw this grenade: “I believe too many people go to college.” Watch the jaws drop as you blast this tired piece of conventional wisdom. People unthinkingly accept the current system, where even low skill jobs often require a college degree, and never question why. Has everyone blocked out all the lazy stoners and drunks who coasted to degrees alongside us, and refused to contemplate whether over $100K to “get a piece of paper” made any sense for these slackers? Employers know college is the new high school and use that piece of paper as a minimum bar certifying someone’s ability to write in complete sentences. We now accept a premise that disqualifies 70% of the workforce from decent paying jobs.

A sister conversation to that, one new parents are familiar with, starts with a question: “Have you already started saving up for college? Hope so, because by the time he’s 18 it’s gonna cost…” The questioner waits for your eyeballs to glaze over and your shoulders to slump, to which they will sagely nod. A simple response will turn this back on them: “No, I’m not worried about it. College education costs are a bubble that is bound to pop well before then.” Your reward will be a look of confusion, followed by a slowly dawning realization, “Shoot, why hadn’t I thought of that before?” It’s as if the housing bubble, where the same “costs will only go up” argument was prevalent, taught us nothing. Sadly, our elected central planners clearly haven’t learned from it, as Yahoo’s The Ticket reports:

Senate Republicans blocked a vote Tuesday on a bill that would have extended the current low 3.4 percent interest rate on Stafford student loans, taking issue with how the Democratic bill would fund the extension. If Congress fails to pass such an extension by July, the rates will double.

Unfortunately the gridlock is over whether to even pay for this extension, and not whether it’s a good idea in the first place. But it should be:  Continue reading