What do Harry Potter, Lady Gaga and Star Trek have in common? Each is the subject of courses offered at supposedly serious American colleges and universities. It’s no wonder then that according to a recent survey by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, only 11% of today’s business leaders “strongly agree” that college graduates offer the skills needed in the real business world, while 88% want more connection between the business and college arenas. Apparently, studying the intricacies of Lady Gaga’s unique wardrobe won’t support a family in the real world – shocking, we know.
Meanwhile, Gallup found that 96% of college and university chief academic officers are “extremely or somewhat confident” that their schools produce job-ready candidates. We wonder how many of these administrators have ever worked outside academia. Barack Obama wants the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college grads in the world by 2020. Just what we need – diploma-toting experts in the invented Klingon language who, sadly, think the world needs their “knowledge.”
All this is not to say higher education is worthless. The survey found 95% of the general public thinks some post-high school education is necessary, but the vast majority believes such education should focus more on useful skills. The question is what is a college education worth? The nation’s student debt has far surpassed credit card debt and now exceeds $1 trillion – up from $253 billion just 10 years ago. And as college tuitions continue to skyrocket, making those loans even more necessary, perhaps one of those useful skills would be knowing that paying money to study the science of superheroes may not be the best investment.