Commentary

Smashing the Grad School Shibboleth

By Rob Shimshock | August 20, 2021 | 11:01am EDT
A female graduate wears a cap made of one-dollar banknotes. (Photo credit: Alfred Gescheidt/Getty Images)
A female graduate wears a cap made of one-dollar banknotes. (Photo credit: Alfred Gescheidt/Getty Images)

There is no more robust measurement of a nation’s conceit and deceit than the percentage of its citizens enrolled in higher education, particularly graduate school.

If education is preparation to make it in the world, why is it that in 1940, almost 95 percent of Americans were prepared by age 18, whereas in 2017, only 66 percent could say the same, with a third of the country choosing to spend at least four extra years of valuable youth having their wallets plundered to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars by a viciously partisan apparatus which incubates in impressionable minds far-left mantras that then spread far and wide to Congress, Hollywood, the media, Silicon Valley, etc.?

“Modern professions require that much more schooling” is an arrogant answer. Alexander Hamilton served as a brilliant lawyer despite having never stepped foot in a law school. Harvard started the world’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) program in 1908; are we to believe that multiple millennias’ worth of 22 to 24-year-old entrepreneurs, merchants, and the like missed out on some special “secret sauce” that could only be imparted by someone with a “professor” before his name?

It’s time to face the facts. Academia is postponing the age by which Americans are deemed ready to begin giving back to the world and accumulate wealth, all the while saddling them with the huge financial negative of student debt and perhaps even larger moral negative of anti-Christian and anti-white bias.

America’s national student loan debt balance has skyrocketed from $0.33 trillion in 2003 to $1.7 trillion in 2020. In a Christian society predicated on charity, borrowing would matter less, but the normalization of exorbitant interest rates coupled with Congress nixing income limits for borrowers, raising the ceiling on undergrad borrowing, and erasing caps on parent and grad student borrowing has spelled years and even decades of financial woe for master’s grads. Add to this the fact that the median millennial is set to inherit half as much ($75,000) as the average member of Gen. X or baby boomer ($150,000) and debt armageddon, with its twin claws of collapse in home ownership and plummet in the birthrate, seems inescapable.

While grad students only make up 19 percent of student borrowers, they hold 40 percent of the total student loan debt. But expect this share, as well as the absolute amount of debt, to grow dramatically as, at 13 percent, the share of the population aged 25 and older that possesses a master’s degree stands at the same proportion of bachelor’s degree holders in 1960...and we know what happened to that number….Holding both a bachelor's degree and graduate degree will become the norm and, soon enough, these two will be accompanied by yet another special hundred-thousand-dollar piece of paper, this one requiring you to withstand left-wing agitprop until age 26 or later. 

There will come a day when schools, banks, media outlets, and other parties with a vested interest in seeing debt soar will hype PhDs or Super Graduate Degrees equally as pricey, time-consuming, and rife with indoctrination as the new baseline gateway to the upper echelons of American society.

“Who cares?” screech my (hopefully few) libertarian readers. “Every individual can weigh the opportunity cost of attending college and make a well-informed decision for himself.”

However, just like one in six Democrat voters who said they wouldn’t have voted for Joe Biden had they known about stories that the mainstream media censored -- an election-changing number -- how capable are students and parents of making such a critical choice? Thwarting their sober decision-making are whole industries that have dubbed graduate degrees proxies for workplace competence. Gullible parents and students lap up propaganda and corporations codify these pricey papers as golden tickets to materialist and hedonist utopia (bear in mind that greater discretionary spending doesn’t neatly translate into other, arguably better standards of wellbeing like happiness, in which America is falling). 

But the buck stops with businesses. Just like fiat dollars are only valuable insofar as they can be exchanged for gold, graduate degrees only have worth in their conversion to attractiveness to employers. Short of a progressive Congress forgiving mass swathes of student loan debt or a right-wing Congress defunding universities -- both chimerical fever dreams -- the ivory tower shakedown will continue unchecked unless CEOs en masse replace the currency of degrees with internships, workplace competence tests, or something else less manipulable and monetizable but also more indicative of actual job proficiency.

Woke Capital has relentlessly stabbed conservatives in the back over the past decade. But Woke Capital, of all institutions, realizes that money talks. America may be increasingly socially atomized, but it is still very economically interconnected. Elites aren’t immune from the looming financial cataclysm and class warfare collateral and so there is yet a chance they may don the figurative cape and cowl, if only out of self-preservation.

Rob Shimshock is the commentary editor at CNSNews.com. He has covered education, culture, media, technology, and politics for a variety of national outlets, hosted the Campus Unmasked YouTube show, and was named to The Washington Examiner's "30 Under 30" list. Shimshock graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Media Studies.

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