Respected Economist Expresses Concern about Growing Cost of College

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Respected economist Dr. Richard Vedder is expressing concerns about the growing cost of college.

Economist Dr. Richard Vedder spoke this week to The College Fix about his new book, Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America, which seeks to propose solutions in American higher education.

Vedder argues that colleges aren’t serving American society in the manner for which they were intended. Instead of graduating from college with an appreciation for principles like freedom of speech, many students leave their four-university with contempt for basic American values.

Which would be alright if colleges were doing other things that served society well. For example, if there was a rise in virtue, a decline in crime, or if we could attribute to college some great improvement in civic responsibilities and people behaving better and so forth. This is what colleges were originally supposed to do, but I don’t see any of those things happening. Indeed, I’m starting to see a contempt for certain basic principles – things like freedom of speech, the notion that colleges are places where you should be challenged and face uncomfortable thoughts as part of the learning process. That’s going by the wayside.

Vedder also argues that that college has worsened income outcomes for Americans. Most Americans would likely assume that the mainstreaming of the undergraduate degree would have eliminated lower class income brackets almost altogether. Now, students are taking on debt in order to graduate with degrees that don’t land them jobs that pay much more than the ones they could have found without the degree.

Then you look at the statistics. Ever since we’ve been sending everyone to college, the statistics show income inequality has grown rather than narrowed. In other words, there’s more income inequality today, not because we’re richer, but partly because college has aggravated the problem. It certainly has not done anything to make the poor more able to go to college – in fact, I think the most interesting statistic in all of higher ed is that the proportion of recent college graduates coming from the, let’s say, bottom one-quarter of the income distribution, is lower today than it was in 1970, which is when we started all these government loan programs.

You can read the interview in its entirety here.

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