If you are a regular reader of this column you have been alerted to the problems of the current college system in America and some of the sources of the problems. As a parent of two children who recently graduated from well-known universities, I am as guilty as anyone of falling into the trap of believing that a college degree ameliorates all future problems for a student. We learn that one could suffer eternal damnation without said degree. That is obviously not true. College has created a system to insulate itself from the outside world when it comes to decisions about your children. Buyer Beware.
There is no doubt that college has become a significant problem in America. Our leaders run around and talk about Armageddon for those who do not go on to college. This is partially because the existing school systems do not adequately prepare students either for a career without a college degree or for the educational rigors of a sophisticated college-level education. Additionally, there has been a proliferation of useless degrees that prepare students for a career after college that can only exist within the confines of a college campus. There is no sign at the door of these departments warning students that their predecessors did not get jobs in those fields, and their hopes are just as bleak. It is truly caveat emptor -- which interestingly the faculty would ferociously dispute for the private sector. At the same time the costs related to college have soared 1,000% over the past 30 years as analyzed by economist Tyler Cowen, far exceeding the inflation rate.
A multitude of reasons have been given for the problems with college, but one has not received enough focus. Once you send your bright shining child to college, they all of sudden become “adults” on their own. To varying degrees as parents you get information back, but your rights to information are strictly limited. It is as if colleges have created their own HIPAA (medical records) law. Ask – but we don’t tell unless there is a release by your child.
We send our children to college to get educated and to facilitate that next step of growing up. Some of us have actually prepared them for the event. But they are not prepared to make all decisions. They can choose strawberry yogurt versus blueberry yogurt, but there are decisions that have deeper and more lasting resonance, yet they are on their own.