Going off to college or, like me, sending your child? Suckers! Why? Because after paying average private college tuition and room and board of $28,500 a year (Harvard is now $54,500), over half of college graduates with bachelor degrees under the age of 25 don’t have jobs or are underemployed. Half! And this despite the 3.8 million job openings in the economy as of June. A whopping 1.5 million recent graduates just aren’t qualified for outstanding jobs—not a ringing endorsement of higher education.
What’s the problem? Most blame outsourcing or technology or the financial crisis. Forget it. Look no further than the huge disconnect between what colleges are turning out and what employers want in new hires. And the gap is widening. Sorry, but good old reading, writing, and ’rithmetic ain’t cutting it anymore.
Check out the adjoining test. It looks just like the math section of the SAT or ACT tests you sweated over for college admissions, right? Except this one is from the entrance exam for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—from 1869. What was so important back then? Simple, the Brooklyn Bridge started construction in January 1870 and every other city in America was itching to build a steel-wire suspension bridge. Designers and builders were the hot jobs and required understanding parabolas and quadratic equations.