The final leg universities stand on is the mythology of social status. That’s it. That’s what gives them what waning power they have.
I can’t count the number of parents I’ve talked with who recognize that college is one of the worst places to learn and degrees are one of the weakest ways to try to get hired, but who still needlessly bite the bullet and send their kid anyway.
Often, they shackle themselves or their children to tens of thousands in debt along the way. They despise the infantilizing policies on campus and bitter ideas in the classroom. They see the waste, corruption, stupidity, warped worldview, and bad habits cultivated and rewarded by the system.
But they still send their kids.
Because they value the decaying social status indicator of a degree. They want a shortcut to communicate to the world that they are good parents and their kids are better than most.
Even when they know the college experience is not good for their kids, many go through with it because they panic. They don’t know how to face other parents who ask what their kids are doing. They don’t know how to deal with the social expectation among the masses that college is somehow respectable.