On "college education makes for a 'well-rounded' person"

George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok on college education


In Germany, far fewer kids go to college than in the United States. Instead, most German high school students opt for apprenticeships and on-the-job training. These students are given high-skill, technical training that motivates theory with practice, and the students are paid! Moreover, on-the-job training promotes acculturation into the adult world instead of walling off 16- to 18-year-olds in their own, sometimes dangerous, world.

By the way, when I make these arguments I am sometimes accused of not appreciating that college education makes for a "well-rounded" person. What a load of rot. Basically, these critics define well-rounded as someone who can quote Plato! Rather self-serving. Well-rounded should also mean being able to replace a light fixture, a challenge to many Platonists!

More seriously, take a look at students in Finland, Sweden, or Germany. In these countries, more than half the students enter apprenticeship programs instead of going to college, but these students are very well-educated and well-rounded.

Comment: More

Forty percent of students don't graduate within six years (and probably never will), many more graduate with degrees that won't help them much in the labor force, and even the ones that do graduate often do so with student debt that will follow them for decades.

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