A Higher Education Apocalypse? I Hope So.

 

Darling Daughter tells me the scuttlebutt among her college friends is that, if the school doesn’t reopen for business as usual in the fall, most of them intend to take a gap semester rather than doing the courses online. I’m sure that would be devastating for a great many of our colleges and universities, with their bloated administrations full of well-paid yet academically superfluous employees.

I’m not one to wish ill on businesses: I want the economy to come roaring back, businesses to reopen yesterday, everyone back at work as soon as possible. I’m pro-market, pro-business, pro-capitalism, pro-employer, pro-worker.

But I won’t mind at all if a bunch of colleges and universities fail, because I think our institutions of higher learning have become, in far too many cases, destructive of young minds and the ideas that made America great.

It’s hard to overstate how foolish and trivial America’s liberal arts programs have become. The obsession with identity, with victimization, and with fanciful sexuality has transformed what were once competent classes about literature and history and art and philosophy into soapboxes from which self-righteous intellectual mediocrities prattle on about imagined oppression and nonexistent genders. The young people who survive this incomprehensibly woke environment emerge debt-ridden and misinformed, unprepared for a world that can bend only so far in accommodation of their newly acquired intellectual confusion.

So, while it almost pains me to hope for the failure of any institution in these troubled times, I’m going to give a little cheer for every one of the nests of censorship and social justice and self-indulgent outrage that closes its doors. We can start with Middlebury and Evergreen.

I do hope STEM programs rebound. We need people who actually know something.

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  1. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    That’s sort of what they were talking about on the GLoP podcast two weeks ago. Right now, the layoffs are affecting the 40 percent of people who can’t work from home, which tends not to include the political elites and their supporters (in either party, but leaning more towards the Democrats). College professors have been among that 60 percent, but colleges need students and their tuition to pay those professors, and if the students opt against remote classes and opt to take a gap semester/year, the higher education system for many universities will flip from their staffs being part of the 60 percent to being forced by their customers — the students and their parents — into being a subset of the 40 percent. They’ll be the ones who are out of jobs because their customers refuse to accept in-person service for the time being.

    That’s not suddenly going to flip all those university employees from ‘D’ to ‘R’ in the upcoming elections. But for the Democratic leadership, it will put pressure on them from a key constituency to get back to normal faster in order to save their jobs (though I don’t doubt someone will come up with the idea of having the state and federal governments simply continue to pay college profs and other administrators at their regular salaries even if little or no tuition is coming in because students have taken a gap year).

     

    • #1
  2. Pony Convertible Inactive
    Pony Convertible
    @PonyConvertible

    Except for STEM programs & trade schools, it’s hard to understand why anyone would spend the time & money to go to college anymore.  There just isn’t any value.  It used to be that a liberal arts major expanded your thinking, and opened your mind. Now it does the opposite.

    • #2
  3. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Just think of all the “diversity” VP salaries they won’t need to pay. Could probably pay off the national debt!

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Let’s just hope that the pathetically run colleges are the ones that go under. My fear is that the very colleges who may be offering fair and balanced curricula will lose out.

    • #4
  5. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Henry, I agree with every sentence in your post. Politically, it seems, we’re twins. 

    • #5
  6. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    Pony Convertible (View Comment):

    Except for STEM programs & trade schools, it’s hard to understand why anyone would spend the time & money to go to college anymore. There just isn’t any value. It used to be that a liberal arts major expanded your thinking, and opened your mind. Now it does the opposite.

    They are being mislead about the benefits of college education and the student loans make it all seem painless.  Colleges have become clubs with climbing walls and rec centers but courses and grades have been watered down to make it painless.  Some is affirmative action but some is just catering to immature egos.

    • #6
  7. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    They will open, but how many students will be in a position to return?  And about that “gap semester”—are these students thinking that they will work?  I think they will be in their parents’ basements.

    • #7
  8. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Sandy (View Comment):

    They will open, but how many students will be in a position to return? And about that “gap semester”—are these students thinking that they will work? I think they will be in their parents’ basements.

    To be fair on that, if they live in states where the governor is extending shutdowns or re-imposing them this fall, they might not have the option to work.

    • #8
  9. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Racette: It’s hard to overstate how foolish and trivial America’s liberal arts programs have become. The obsession with identity, with victimization, and with fanciful sexuality has transformed what were once competent classes about literature and history and art and philosophy into soapboxes from which self-righteous intellectual mediocrities prattle on about imagined oppression and nonexistent genders. The young people who survive this incomprehensibly woke environment emerge debt-ridden and misinformed, unprepared for a world that can bend only so far in accommodation of their newly acquired intellectual confusion.

    Superb.  And very true.

    The left’s destruction of the liberal arts is tragic, in my view.

    • #9
  10. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    I don’t want to even breathe out loud the idea that there’s an upside to all this; if our society needs changing, this is not the way to do it – much too brutal and cruel.

    But it’s worth reflecting on the sudden perspective shift, seeing what a shut down reveals about the comparative worth of institutions, products, practices we have allowed to grow up around us.  So-called Higher Education is ripe for a readjustment.  All of these airy majors we laughed at but tolerated, maybe they will evaporate.

    And I wonder about Hollywood. Those people are so worshiped and pampered.  Actors and stories may once again become simply  “important, but niche” players in our society.  Playing cards and games with my parents for the last month has reminded us of how little we actually need the screens.  I wonder if the Hollywood stars notice that they still need their electricians?  Not to mention of course farmers.

    • #10
  11. Ray Gunner Coolidge
    Ray Gunner
    @RayGunner

    Henry Racette: The young people who survive this incomprehensibly woke environment emerge debt-ridden and misinformed

    So true.

    Forget “Veritas.”  I hereby nominate @henryracette ‘s “Debitum Et Detulerat” as the most honest motto a 21st century liberal arts college could have.

    • #11
  12. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):
    I don’t want to even breathe out loud the idea that there’s an upside to all this; if our society needs changing, this is not the way to do it – much too brutal and cruel.

    But isn’t that the way course corrections usually are?  Brutal and cruel.  I don’t for one second think that what happened was a good thing, but when you stretch a rubber band too far, eventually it snaps.   We will rebuild, I know we will, but not everything will recover and we will learn some painful lessons too.  

    • #12
  13. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):
    Playing cards and games with my parents for the last month has reminded us of how little we actually need the screens.

    I can’t get my wife to play cribbage with me.

    • #13
  14. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Dammit! I want baseball back!

    • #14
  15. Natalie Inactive
    Natalie
    @NatalieLa Fond

    Any thoughts on how this is going to translate to the institutions that fund higher education and how they are repaid for all those student loans?  I’m sensing another bank bailout…

    • #15
  16. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    Pony Convertible (View Comment):

    Except for STEM programs & trade schools, it’s hard to understand why anyone would spend the time & money to go to college anymore. There just isn’t any value. It used to be that a liberal arts major expanded your thinking, and opened your mind. Now it does the opposite.

    What would I say to a young person contemplating a gap year or two?

    It is entirely possible that if you truly value the liberal arts, you will return from a gap year far better educated than if you had attended classes. There is such a wealth of learning opportunities available at low of no cost.

    Do you want to learn Spanish? Install a language – learning  app on your phone and then work for six months in construction labor, commercial lawn care, or back-of-house restaurant jobs. Classical philosophy or history? Start with The Great Courses, YouTube, or the local library. Mechanics? Apply for an entry level job at your local Firestone. Etc. My grandson just dropped out of college and enlisted in the air force. His MOS will be foreign languages.

    My first real job (after loading trucks at a macaroni factory) was as a helper at an local air conditioning business. I learned (for free!) how to weld, work sheet metal, wire up AC units, and how to troubleshoot refrigeration problems. Plus some rudimentary Serbo-Croat, most of which were cuss phrases. All of this has been valuable throughout my life… well, Serbo-Croat cusswords maybe not so much.

    Free, or almost free education is available all around you, and you don’t need Bernie Sanders to provide it, so make your gap year (or two) worth it.

    • #16
  17. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Natalie (View Comment):

    Any thoughts on how this is going to translate to the institutions that fund higher education and how they are repaid for all those student loans? I’m sensing another bank bailout…

    I thought the Feds took over the student loan business during the Obama administration.

    • #17
  18. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    As always…except for Hillsdale. They are powering through the pandemic and finding that their vast experience with online courses has stood them in good stead. Unfortunately they are in Michigan. 

    • #18
  19. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Natalie (View Comment):

    Any thoughts on how this is going to translate to the institutions that fund higher education and how they are repaid for all those student loans? I’m sensing another bank bailout…

    I thought the Feds took over the student loan business during the Obama administration.

    Either way, if student loan forgiveness happens it’s still another taxpayer bailout.

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    People should take note which departments and majors get cut.  If a school cuts core programs (STEM majors and normal humanities like English, history, literature, Western Civ) but keeps trendy stuff (women’s studies, any kind of “studies” major), you know its administration is hopelessly leftist.

    • #20
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Great post and really great comments. I have been so mad about this for so long. 

    I think the heart of it is, the accreditation system makes it a scam and a bad value. They need to separate getting educated in whatever the hell you want, however the hell you want, from getting certified in certain things that relate to productivity or what employers desire. It needs to be organized and promoted this way. Accreditation needs to evaporate. The deflation that is due in this area is just staggering.

    I’m not gonna get into the details but some pretty smart people on this forum have noted that college was one thing before the G.I. Bill, and then another thing after the 60s, and then basically it just became a rip off from the 80s on. Something like that.

    The discussions on talk radio about this are far too simplistic. 

    • #21
  22. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Limestone Cowboy (View Comment):
    All of this has been valuable throughout my life… well, Serbo-Croat cusswords maybe not so much.

    They would help you evade the COC here and the subject would be none the wiser.

    • #22
  23. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Limestone Cowboy (View Comment):
    All of this has been valuable throughout my life… well, Serbo-Croat cusswords maybe not so much.

    They would help you evade the COC here and the subject would be none the wiser.

    Just post a link to the translation dictionary . . .

    • #23
  24. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Limestone Cowboy (View Comment):
    All of this has been valuable throughout my life… well, Serbo-Croat cusswords maybe not so much.

    They would help you evade the COC here and the subject would be none the wiser.

    Well, you say that.

    What most people don’t know is that ExJon’s graduate thesis was titled An Exploration of South-Slavic Obscenity, With a Focus on the [expletive deleted] Bosnians and Serbians, now available here on Amazon.

    • #24
  25. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Henry Racette: It’s hard to overstate how foolish and trivial America’s liberal arts programs have become. The obsession with identity, with victimization, and with fanciful sexuality has transformed what were once competent classes about literature and history and art and philosophy into soapboxes from which self-righteous intellectual mediocrities prattle on about imagined oppression and nonexistent genders.

    I hope the person who fills this position, and all others like zhir, are the first victims of the Higher Education Apocalypse. It can’t happen soon enough.

    • #25
  26. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    My oldest grandson Marshall is finishing his junior year of high school and is an elite student. He wants to go to Duke but is now worried that the gap year phenomenon will make it even harder to be accepted. I graduated from Duke. Marshall’s father was accepted at Duke and although I didn’t tell him that I didn’t want him to go there, I did tell him there were no pretty girls at Duke and after visiting both schools, he chose Wake Forest. When I told Marshall the same thing he just laughed.

    He must have thought I was kidding.

    • #26
  27. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Let’s just hope that the pathetically run colleges are the ones that go under. My fear is that the very colleges who may be offering fair and balanced curricula will lose out.

    Both of them?

    • #27
  28. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: It’s hard to overstate how foolish and trivial America’s liberal arts programs have become. The obsession with identity, with victimization, and with fanciful sexuality has transformed what were once competent classes about literature and history and art and philosophy into soapboxes from which self-righteous intellectual mediocrities prattle on about imagined oppression and nonexistent genders. The young people who survive this incomprehensibly woke environment emerge debt-ridden and misinformed, unprepared for a world that can bend only so far in accommodation of their newly acquired intellectual confusion.

    Superb. And very true.

    The left’s destruction of the liberal arts is tragic, in my view.

    Yup, and Allan Bloom warned us about this very thing back in 1987.  I suspect you won’t find The Closing of the American Mind on many college reading assignments these days.

    • #28
  29. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I’m starting to read news articles about how nervous Division I schools are about getting college football underway.  The NCAA has said a school has to be open to participate (IIRC).  Missing out on March Madness already cost a small fortune for all schools via revenue sharing.  No college football means doom for just about every non-revenue-generating sport . . .

    • #29
  30. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Unfortunately they are in Michigan.

    So you don’t want Michigan to have anything nice?  You have a cruel heart.

    • #30
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