Universities have been whistling past the graveyard for years, Ignoring the signs of rot in their industry, they just rolled along through the decades, charging obscene prices for educational experiences that were obsolete.
Overall, college enrollment dropped ten percent over the past decade, but the universities did not reduce their costs. Instead, they hired recruiters who flew around the country trying to raid students from competing universities in other states.
In a desperate search for paying customers, colleges “rebranded” themselves with catchy slogans pasted on highway billboards–slogans like “Change Your Life. Start Hear, Life’s Calling. It’s Your Life.”
Then they whipped up “cutting edge” college majors, upgraded their recreation facilities and constructed “luxury” student dorms. They rolled out romantic study-abroad experiences in England, Spain, and Italy.
To pay for this nonsense, colleges raised tuition. When sticker shock set in, they switched tactics and slashed tuition–slashed it by half for incoming freshmen. But neither tactic stabilized their revenues.
Last spring, the universities were hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which is forcing them to spend lavishly to keep their campuses safe. Many are closing their dorms in response to the crisis–another revenue loss.
Meanwhile, Americans accumulated $1.7 trillion in student debt–debt they incurred in the often vain hope that a college education (and perhaps a graduate degree) would lead to a good job.
And now, Google has launched an inexpensive professional certification program that can be completed in six months. As reported by David Leibowitz, Google “signaled to jobseekers that they would treat these certificates, which require no prior experience of undergraduate credentials, as the equivalent of four-year degrees by their hiring managers.”
Or, as Google put it, “In our hiring, we will now treat these new career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles.”
What! Can a young person actually get a good job after taking a six-month training program without having to sit through four years of bullshit to get a bachelor’s degree–or six years of bullshit to get a master’s degree?
Can people really earn a living wage, marry, buy a house, have children, and save for retirement without taking a course in transnational sexuality? Without taking out $50,000 in student loans that can never be paid back? Without having a professor teach them that Mom and Pop, by staying in a traditional marriage, were participating in the structured exploitation of women and people of color?
Can that be true?
By God, we better hope it’s true because the lazy, dysfunctional, anti-intellectual, toxic, and often racist cocktail that we call American higher education ain’t working for us.
And I use the word “ain’t” advisedly, because Rutgers University says that mastery of standard English grammar is not absolutely necessary to communicate as an educated person.