This isn’t really news, but it’s depressing anyway, indicative of a massive failure of government policy and misincentives:
What the study found is not the least bit surprising. Students who learned little in college (as evidenced by scoring in the bottom quintile on the College Learning Assessment) were three times as likely to be unemployed as students who scored in the top quintile, twice as likely to be living at home, and somewhat more likely to have run up credit card debts.
Those findings throw cold water on the smiley face idea that going to college is necessarily a good “investment.” Even some of the top graduates were unemployed and living with their parents and a much higher number of low-performing graduates were. Unfortunately, the study did not seek to find out how many of those graduates were “underemployed” in jobs that high schoolers can do. (Perhaps no further evidence on that is necessary, though, in view of this study.)
Another particularly interesting finding from “Documenting Uncertain Times” is that employers pay little attention to what students majored in and how good their academic records were. The authors write, “That nearly two-thirds of these recent graduates’ employers did not require them to submit transcripts speaks to the perceived limited value and trust employers currently place in this traditional record of achievement in higher education.” If, as I have argued for years, many employers are simply using the presence of a college degree as a screening device, that behavior makes perfect sense.
A company that, for example, needs to hire someone to handle a car-rental desk might insist on a college degree as evidence of trainability, but not think it worth the added cost of checking to see how he or she did in college. Whatever education might have been absorbed is irrelevant; all that matters is the credential itself.
A credential becoming worth less and less. This all started when it became difficult for employers to test job applicants. As noted there, if we can’t get government out of the student loan business, which is a large part of the problem, we need to force the schools to put some skin in the loan game themselves, because as the situation is currently, they’re not punished for their failure to educate, but rewarded.