Benjamin Franklin once said that, “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” This used to mean that students could look forward to attending college, acquiring an education, and graduating into the professional workforce. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case because higher education has been commandeered by political correctness, intellectual laziness, and an out of touch philosophy that no longer prepares students for the real world. The reality is that higher education is becoming irrelevant, unnecessary, and not preparing graduates. Here are ten reasons that describe how higher education is failing millennials.
#1 Assignments are irrelevant to the real world
Learning how to write in APA or MLA format is not helpful for most people, and neither is memorizing a list of dates during the Renaissance, composing Haiku poems, or learning Freudian psychology. Instead, students should be given assignments that will prepare them for the real world by adding value to their education, their future professional career, and American society. This means that students are challenged with work that will directly transfers to adding value after graduation.
#2 College gives students a false sense of accomplishment
Many students are leaving college with a false sense of accomplishment and entitlement. There is a belief that a college degree entitles one to a job, high-pay, and financial security. Unfortunately, the real world does not work like this and many graduates are facing this stark reality. The value of education is being diminished as college becomes a “universal right”, entry requirements are reduced, and everybody gets a degree if you show up for four years and try your best. Higher education should reflect hard work, sacrifice, and intellectual rigor instead of participation and writing a check for tuition.
#3 Students are not prepared for professional careers
The purpose of college is two-fold: to educate and prepare for work. Although subjects like “The Problem of Whiteness” at Arizona State University might be interesting, it is largely useless. Higher education should teach students the basics of financial literacy such as balancing a checkbook, managing a budget, how mortgage rates and compound interest works, and how to invest for retirement. Instead of learning “The Psychology of Prejudice” at San Jose State University, students should understand basic economic concepts such as minimum wage laws, tariffs and taxation, and inflation as a form of monetary policy. Moreover, college could better prepare students for work by teaching how to craft a professional email, write a cover letter, or prepare a resume.
#4 Students would be better off spending two years reading classics
There are so many nonsense courses in higher education that it is hard to believe. Nobody would have thought there would ever be classes such as “The Science of Superheroes” at UC Irvine or “Zombies in Popular Media” at Columbia College. Many students would be better off studying the classical trivium or quadrivium, which is the traditional liberals arts curriculum comprised of grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Most of the classics are available for free online or at the local public library and will provide more information, rigor, and critical thinking than much of the fluff material available in courses today.
#5 You don’t get what you pay for
The average annual cost of public college is $9,650 for in-state students, $24,930 for out-of-state students, and $33,480 for private schools. That means that the average student who graduates is going to pay somewhere between $40,000 and $130,000 for a college degree. With the surge of online learning, access to public libraries, the ability to rent books from Amazon, or acquire classics online for free, the value of paying so much for a degree has diminished. For the amount that a degree costs, students could start a business, make a down payment for a mortgage, travel the world, or pay for a private tutor. Much of college tuition is bloated because students are forced to pay for non-academic activities such as season tickets to the football games, daycare, sex education programs, and administrators. Not only that, students are stuck with debt they must pay even after college is over.
#6 The lack of morals is appalling
Learning about “Queer Musicology” at UCLA might be intellectually stimulating for some professors, but it is not what most parents and family want their children studying at college. Courses such as “Those Sexy Victorians” at Ole Miss are not helping students to achieve higher education and become prepared for the professional world. There is no longer right or wrong on the college campus because moral relativism dominates. Facts have been replaced by opinions and traditional morals and values are openly mocked and decried. Instead of traditional Judeo-Christian culture, college emanates a culture of underage drinking, casual sex, and upending authority.
#7 College teaches one side of the issues
Higher education should engage students in rigorous, fair, and intellectual debate. The entire political and philosophical spectrum should be taught, and each philosophy should be recognized for its strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, most colleges teach a leftist philosophy that focuses on progressivism, cultural relativism, evolutionism, and social justice. The topic of conservatism, truth, creationism, and free market economics are largely forgotten. College should be a place where the best idea wins, both sides of the topic are taught, and students are taught to have the courage to own their belief and defend it with facts.
#8 Many professors cannot cut it in the real world
George Bernard Shaw stated, “he who can, does, he who cannot, teaches.” Unfortunately, there is a good amount of truth to this. Can a professor teach business if he has not worked in business or can a professor teach English if she has not published anything? There is a disparity between the theoretical that is taught and the practical that relates to the marketplace. Instead of pontificating about theory and ideas, business emphasizes value and ideas that work in the real world with real people. Many professors cannot cut it in the real world because their ideas are defunct.
#9 Scholarly writing is mostly useless
There is very little value to learning how to write in academic format because most people do not read academic material. Many academics like to make themselves feel useful by publishing writing in academic journals and conferences, but the truth is that most people do not care. There is value in publishing knowledge, but if nobody is going to read what a person writes, then it does not add value. Instead, college should focus on teaching students how to write things that people will read. Clarity, brevity, and factuality should be elements of any paper. Students should be taught how to write things that will matter in the marketplace.
#10 Students are checking a box and then forgetting about college
Students are beginning to realize the boondoggle that higher education has become. Books, videos, certifications, curriculum, and apps are available to provide a competitive education with traditional colleges. Many students are attending college just to check a box and say they have a degree. College graduates are recognizing that the real learning begins on the job and that everybody must start entry-level regardless of degree or educational institution. The worst part about attending college to check off a box is that students are stuck with the debt once the college facade is over.
Higher education should be a place where students go to broaden their perspective, learn the facts of the matter, and engage in rigorous, fair, and balanced debate. It’s OK if a student goes to college and leaves believing in Marxism or Free Markets—what matters is that the material was taught in a fair and balanced way and the student was left to decide between the facts. College should not be a place of indoctrination or leftist thought—college should be a place that prepares students for the real world by teaching them the material that will be most useful to professional success.
The advent of new education in the form of online learning and apps is bringing hope to a decaying college education. Millennials have been served a bad track with the current state of education, but millennials also have the opportunity and challenge to bring value back in higher education. Higher education should provide value that will help individuals better themselves, their professional career, and their community. Fortunately, millennials are a generation focused on value, collaboration, and innovation, and the future of education looks bright with millennials at the helm.
Greg is a California native, husband, and father of three lovely daughters. He is a graduate from San Jose State University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Liberty University. He has authored articles on health & fitness, economics, and technology. Greg consults to Fortune 100 companies, is Chairman of the Board for Arizona Right to Life, and looks forward to the day when abortion is unthinkable, which will be within our lifetime. Find Greg on Linked In.