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The "too many college students" controversy

There is a heated exchange of ideas brewing on the Chronicle of Higher Education site with regard to the number of U.S. college students. You might think that the educators who frequent the pages would be universally in favor of more students rather than less, simply in the interest of job preservation. But Dr. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, takes an alternative view that we have too many kids in college. He is currently engaged in a pretty intense back-and-forth dialog on the subject with Dr. Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College.

In the most recent post, Wood points out a couple of facts that seldom come out in debates about the cost and worth of a college education: ".....there is a very poor correlation between the percent of college-degree attainment in a nation and the nation's overall prosperity. Russia leads the world in college-degree attainment among 25- to 64-year-olds and among 25- to 34-year-olds, both at 54 percent. No one thinks Russia has the world's leading economy. Switzerland (34 percent) and Germany (25 percent) have robust economies but smaller percentages of degree holders than the U.S."

Another point Wood makes is that a four-year degree "is, among other things, a legal gatekeeper, since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in 1971 in Griggs v Duke Power, effectively banning the use of general-intelligence tests for sorting out potential employees. Griggs appears to have boosted college enrollments."

You can read Wood's blog post here. It also contains links back to his original piece and Rosenberg's response to it.

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