What is the root of all evil here? Is it the utterly misguided idea that everybody — including people with average or below-average intelligence — needs a college education (how about actually teaching something in high school instead)? Is it the proliferation of vapid make-believe majors of the ‘studies’ ilk, while engineering and hard sciences increasingly have to recruit (legal) immigrant students from abroad? Is it the use, by employers, of irrelevant college degrees as a proxy for standardized tests which employers are no longer allowed to administer, leading to situations where BA/BS college degrees become an admissions ticket to jobs that don’t require a college education to begin with? Is it the availability of cheap student loans with no regard for whether the graduate will be gainfully employed at a level that will enable him/her to repay the loan? (Insty gives the example of somebody with $100K in student loan debt who got a degree in gender and religious studies, currently employed as a photographer’s assistant and having trouble making payments meet.) Is it the fact that ‘studies’ degrees have a much higher profit margin for colleges than labor-intensive, high-cost degree programs in STEM fields (=science, technology, and medicine)?
My answer would be: all of the above.