Should young people go to college? Should parents, grandparents, and teachers urge them to go to college?

These are now open questions.

Perhaps we should ask whether they “still” should go to college. Not too long ago, the default answer was a resounding yes. College was not only the path to higher earnings, but the gateway to status: professional careers in law, medicine, teaching, banking, business, engineering, and tech. Greatest generation parents—many of whom knew physically demanding farm and factory work—relentlessly instilled the distinction between blue-collar jobs and white-collar careers in baby boomers. After World War II the greatest generation wanted better, easier lives for the next generation. Higher education was key. Baby boomers, who indeed benefited from college, will face a psychological hurdle if their children or grandchildren won’t have college degrees like they do. It feels like regression for their families’ next generation to leave the credentialed class.

But cracks in this conventional wisdom are showing. Mainstream voices are examining the opportunity costs of college (lost work years, debt, dubious majors) like never before. And there is a political, ideological, and cultural element to this critique. It is now commonplace for many on the political right to view higher education with suspicion and outright hostility.

Read more at Mises Wire.


Deist is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a tax attorney and former chief of staff to former Congressman Ron Paul.