College for all

Should college be open and free for everyone? David Adesnik and Matthew Yglesias have kicked off a debate.

Alex Whitlock has doubts.

My degree helped get me to the front of the line. If everyone were to have that piece of paper, I have my doubts that the overall employment rates would change much and I seriously doubt that it would lead to a serious wage increase across the board. Instead, I believe the result would be a lot more college majors working at Starbucks.

Community college essentially is open and free to everyone, and it’s a wonderful way for people of any age to improve academic and job skills. But people with very poor reading, writing, math and study skills — and those who’ve come to hate classroom learning — have trouble making use of community college opportunities.

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  1. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘Should college be open and free for everyone?’

    It’s not free for anyone, it’s paid for by someone else. It’s only free if the prof’s and admin’s are volunteering and the facilities maintain themselves.

  2. Good point about community colleges. I blog about this discussion here.

  3. Everybody getting a degree will not suspend the law of supply and demand. It will do nothing for the number of [insert job here] actually demanded by the economy.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    People who want everyone to go to college should reread Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut. In his disutopian view, if the world makes getting more education that most people a prerequisite of getting a job, then even the managers at a store or your real estate agent will have a PhD.

  5. Out in California, Community College is no longer free. But the charges are minimal. What I really like about our system is that there ARE numerous opportunities for students to remedy their deficiencies in reading/writing English. I do not know about other areas, but that’s the situation in Imperial County.

  6. Steve LaBonne says:

    Whatever money is currently invested in remedial programs at 4-year schools should be shifted to the overworked and underfunded community colleges, which are far better places for underprepared students to begin their studies.

  7. Here in CA, the UC and CSU systems run their own remedial programs. One great way to improve things, not to mention sticking closer to the original plan, would be to have remedial work take place at a CC before admission to the UC or CSU. There’s no reason for this duplication of effort.

  8. superdestroyer – I always knew there was a reason why I liked Kurt Vonnegut (okay, that’s not really true, since I’ve never read anything of his…but now I have to start liking him!). That’s my sentiment exactly. What do people hope to accomplish by having everybody go to college? Not everyone can be at the top. There will always be people at the top, at the middle, and at the bottom. We will never ever be equal. That’s life. If we make everybody go to college, then the standards will be raised even higher, and those who were at the bottom before will still be at the bottom.

    That’s also why I’m not sure why people are so adamant about raising minimum wage. Won’t raising minimum wage just make everything else get more expensive? So it’s not like they’ll be able to buy anything more with their money. Sure, minimum wage might have been two bucks (I’m pulling that number outta thin air, don’t know what the actual number is) back in 1950, but I’m guessing you could buy a lot more for a dollar back then, as well.

  9. superdestroyer says:


    I believe that the upper classes in the US have long figured out that the college degree race is a “arms race” they hurts them. That is why too many career fields have begun to required the unpaid intership to enter. There is no better way to ensure that the middle classes, no matter how smart or how ambitious, canot compete than to make them live in expensive cities such as New York, DC, San Francisco while working long hours at no pay (anyone care to remember what Chanda Levy’s living expenses were?)