US Universities Heading For Cultural and Financial Collapse. By Peter Wood. And not a moment too soon.
The appetite for the “college experience” may not be about to vanish, but it is running into some unappetizing realities.
The first is cost. The price of college, even after “tuition discounting,” has accelerated far beyond the rate of inflation for more than 30 years. … Many students now weigh the prospect of decades of debt against the increasingly specious claim that, in the long run, college will pay for itself. There are too many debt-ridden, underemployed, depressed, and regretful adults around for that sales pitch to work.
Into this picture drops ChatGPT and the spreading realization that many of the jobs that have required the skills supposedly developed in an undergraduate college education will soon be obsolete.
Will college teach some other set of equally valuable skills? What will happen when white-collar work is mostly done by artificial intelligence? … No college has yet come up with convincing answers to these questions. …
Hostile to men:
Students also hear from their peers and elder siblings who have gone to college. One thing they learn is that college is increasingly a hostile environment for men. Well, maybe not for men who believe they are women, or men who want to explore their “gender identities” or try on “queerness.” But the percentages of men who actually fit into these categories is pretty small.
Women now also have to reckon with a college environment where the percentage of heterosexual males has fallen significantly below the percentage of heterosexual females. College used to be a place where relationships not infrequently led to marriages. That has been in sharp decline for about 20 years. Schools can propagandize all they want about gender fluidity, but most humans will still feel attracted to one sex or the other, and most will be attracted to the opposite sex. …
Hostile to whites and Asians:
Too pricey? Too strange? What else stands in the way of recruiting the next generation of college students? Animus against white and Asian students. A college that demeans students by teaching them they are unfairly “privileged” or deserving of shame for the supposed actions of their ancestors may win today’s social-justice points but rapidly loses its credibility as an institution of higher learning. …
Many universities need more money, fast:
Colleges and universities went on a spree of hiring thousands of new diversity-equity-inclusion administrators. Now the COVID money is gone, and much of it was spent on these frivolous hires. But the expanded payroll remains. …
In the next three years, colleges in a “precarious financial position” will nearly double. There simply won’t be enough students to go around.
I am not sure if the economic catastrophe of 2008 fully explains the failure of Americans to reproduce. Fertility rates also reflect cultural confidence, which has been in sharp decline as well.
Colleges have responded to the dearth of domestic students by trying to recruit more international students and by trying to enroll students from American minorities who are “underrepresented.” International students, nearly half of whom are from China, are arriving in fewer numbers and are rightly encountering increased skepticism on the part of American authorities, since the discovery that a significant number have ties to the CCP or People’s Liberation Army-affiliated institutions. …
China’s record of infiltrating Western universities, including Australian institutions, has long worried government officials, but there are no reliable estimates of what portion of Chinese international students are in fact intelligence operatives.
As for recruiting students from underrepresented groups, all too often this has come at expense of academic standards …
The contempt is mutual:
We have seen conspicuous examples of well-educated, “college-experienced” individuals who have brought their college views to the corporate workplace with less than happy results.
Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of marketing for Bud Light, Alissa Heinerscheid, is a graduate of Harvard, where she received a BA in English, and the Wharton School where she earned her MBA. Explaining her decision to use transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney to promote Bud Light, she sounded like a diversity dean intoning the latest riffs on identity. She hoped, she said, “to evolve and elevate” the beer to mean “inclusivity,” true to the principle that “representation is at the heart of evolution.”
Meet Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s VP of Marketing. She explains her strategy of using “inclusive” marketing to promote the brand to young people. pic.twitter.com/hFpe8YnbBc
— Catch Up (@CatchUpFeed) April 9, 2023
Disney, Target, Apple, Ford, and myriad other companies have their counterparts of Heinerscheid; graduates of “good” colleges who speak fluent “inclusivity” and yet have a tenuous grasp of their own society.
The fabled aloofness of the university as an ivory tower cut off from the concerns of ordinary people has gone by the boards. We now have an institution dedicated to turning its students into missionaries of its vision of how ordinary people should live, and using American commerce as the tool to impose this vision on an unwilling populace.
Americans increasingly understand that the font of this new misery is the university, which has become an institution that regards their habits, preferences, and ideas — their culture — with disdain.
There is a “status rebellion” brewing in which higher education will be the loser. An institution disdainful of the nation and even of the ideal of nationhood is not well-positioned to thrive. Much as it may emphasize that its students are “citizens of the world,” it depends on the support of actual citizens who are not amused by the idea that their country is just a construct, and one that oppresses some and privileges others.
The need to feel superior, because that’s their product:
This estrangement between higher education and the American people isn’t going to fade away merely because many colleges and universities face financial stringency. The colleges may be forced to relent a little on hiring DEI staff, but most college presidents are determined to stick with their progressive priorities, no matter that this commitment has opened up a chasm between campus culture and American culture. As the college presidents see it, the chasm signifies the moral and intellectual superiority of the campus. What looks to the public like insularity, looks to higher education’s leadership class like well-earned status.
But the targets of their disdain see it differently:
The members of the public on the other side of this chasm are still willing to consider college as the surest path to a career, but they are growing skeptical. That skepticism, however, turns into outright disaffection when they ponder how our colleges and universities often foster what is worst in young people:
- Ingratitude to their families and their nation, self-centeredness, and aimless alienation.
- Colleges ignite group resentment, unwarranted pride, or equally unwarranted shame.
- And the education that colleges provide has been hollowed to near pointlessness.
- Students graduate with a veneer of knowledge rather than a core.
An increasingly obsolescent institution has wedded itself to an increasingly noisome cultural stance.
The braver students are already finding viable alternatives to college. More and more will follow. A substantial number of Americans now look at college as something that menaces the psychological wellbeing of their children. If they send their sons and daughters to college, it is with well-warranted apprehension, and because they cannot yet think of what else to do.
It is not sustainable. The parasite is overwhelming the host.