John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, writes in National Review a solid, sweeping article about higher education. It's currently available only to subscribers (they, and hackers, may read it here). Some good parts:
No one disputes that a four-year degree is a ticket to lucrative professions requiring advanced academic training, such as medicine, law, or academia itself. But most undergraduates are not training for these professions, and, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, more and more college graduates go into jobs that do not require diplomas. George Leef, vice president for research of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, notes that a quarter of travel agents and retail-sales supervisors, a third of flight attendants, and nearly half of aerobics instructors have bachelor's degrees. That's fine - if they wanted to study Goethe or geology for personal edification, and were willing to spend four years and a lot of money doing so. But it's pointless if the idea was to boost their careers.
Using 2000 data on test scores and coursework, education researchers Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas and Greg Forster of the Friedman Foundation estimated that the number of high-school students prepared to study college-level material was about 40,000 lower than the number of students enrolling in college. The predictable result of this trend is that only a minority of American colleges and universities are truly selective anymore, with gut courses and grade inflation rampant on many campuses.
In a normal market, prices...