WSJ: Dr. Vedder, you’ve written that we currently have a glut of college graduates. Why do you think college is no longer the valuable investment it once was?
DR. VEDDER: First, the proportion of society’s resources going to fund higher education has tripled over the past half-century, and tuition costs are rising significantly faster than inflation.
Second, the reality is that at least 40% of full-time students entering four-year programs fail to have their degree in six years, and the dropout rate is even greater among lower-income students. There are vast numbers of universities where the four-year college graduation rate is less than 30%.
Third, the biggest problem is that we are turning out vastly more college graduates than there are jobs in the relatively high-paying managerial, technical and professional occupations to which most college graduates traditionally have gravitated. Do you really need a chemistry degree to make a good martini? Roughly one of three college graduates is in jobs the Labor Department says require less than a bachelor’s degree.