Stossel: The College Scam


These days all Americans are told go to college! A higher education is the single best investment. But a new book, The Case Against Education says this college push is a big mistake. How many thousands of hours did you spend in classes studying subjects that you never thought about again? Economist Bryan Caplan says most people who go to college shouldn’t. I learned little in college. I liked my friends and illegal drinking, but I slept through lectures. At least tuition then was $2,000, now it’s almost $50,000. People usually just want to talk about the tuition, which is a big deal but there’s also all the years that people spend in school when they could have been doing something else if you just take a look at the faces of the students it’s obvious that they’re bored and people are there primarily in order to get a good job. Because a diploma is a signaling device for people with no more brains than you have but they have one thing you haven’t got, a diploma! The con man who was the Wizard of Oz hinted at the problem years ago. Doctor of Thinkology. Why’d you write this book? The Wizard of Oz already made the argument. But almost no one seems to believe it. College graduation has never been more valuable than it is today. Education is my top priority and by supporting this budget you’ll make it yours as well. Meaning taxpayers must pay for it. All the politicians say, go to college. And there is evidence the higher you go, the more money you make. It’s totally true that when people go and get more and better and fancier degrees that their income generally goes up, but the reason why this happening is not really that college is pouring tons of job skills into you, the reason is that it’s impressive. You aren’t saying, you, individual don’t go to college, you’re saying we as a country are suckers to push it and subsidize it. Exactly. Just because it is lucrative for an individual doesn’t mean that’s a good idea for country. Because when most everyone goes to college, that just raises the bar. Imagine that you’re at a concert and everyone is sitting down and you want to see better, what can you do? Well you can stand up alright, and of course then you’ll see better. Now it does not follow though that if everyone stands up everyone sees better. You just block each other’s views. The same thing has happened in education, says Caplan, as more people got degrees, more employers insisted on degrees. The result isn’t that graduates get better jobs, it’s that employers require degrees for most every job. There are so many jobs where it used to be crazy to think that you would need a college degree, like to be a waiter in a fancy restaurant where now it would be very normal. Of course a college education is about more than getting a job, it’s also about learning but Caplan says if students really wanted to learn, they would just do it. If you want to go to Princeton, you don’t have to apply, just move to the town and start attending classes. Nobody does that. In people’s bones they realize that what really counts is that diploma. Today that’s a taxpayer subsidized diploma and when you subsidize something, you get more of it. More students apply to college, so schools raise tuition. Tuition cost has risen at triple the rate of inflation. Schools use that money to attract more students and more tax money. Many compete by advertising luxury. They promote things like lobster dinners, fancy pools. Students will come to us and say, this is what sealed the deal. Used to be reading, writing, and arithmetic, and well we’re now the 4th “r”, recreation. 600 colleges now have rock walls. Give our Tigers spring break every time they step in to the Student Recreation Complex. This is a public school, taxpayers fund that spring break. We also fund years of study in subjects unlikely to help students get jobs, like social justice, gender studies, multicultural studies. If we’re doing computer science or electrical engineering, then you probably are actually learning a bunch of useful skills, but every year we graduate about twice as many psychology bachelor’s degrees as we do engineering bachelor’s degrees. Of course there’s value in learning psychology, philosophy, literature, many employers say they want liberal arts graduates. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing. It makes us better, wiser people. But you can’t assume that works. How many years of people’s lives should they be made to study stuff when the odds that they’ll ever appreciate it are 1 in a 100, 1 in a 1000? Maybe it makes our brains work better? It’s the kind of thing you’d expect teachers say, but there’s a whole field of people who have actually studied this. Much as they want to believe that you’re right they generally come away after looking at a lot of evidence and saying, wow actually it’s wishful thinking. Although Caplan calls college a scam, he says it’s great for a few people. People like him. I’m a tenured professor. Your audience may not realize how good of a gig this is, but a tenured professor cannot be fired for almost any reason and you get a nice income and there almost no demands upon your time. You just have to teach five hours a week? Well there’s people who consider that a horrible burden. That’s a scam that we’re paying so much money for people like you to teach you five hours. Yeah well, I’m a whistleblower. The bottom line of The Case Against Education: taxpayers ought to know that they’re getting ripped off. Government has made a tremendous effort to make education accessible to everyone. I say really what we need to do is to go back to a world where college is not so accessible, where it really distinguishes you, and in this way, people are going to be able to start their lives years earlier. The wisest solution all things considered would be if government just got out. It would be good if government got out of a lot of things.

100 Replies to “Stossel: The College Scam”

  1. A college degree says one thing. "I played along. I did what I was told and I'll be in debt for 20 years to pay for this piece of paper that says I played along and I might have even learned a few useful things, but I just want you to know, oh prospective employer, that I will do anything to pay all this shit off and not go hungry".

  2. Since tenured professors make more than 150 000 USD per year just by teaching 5 lessons (each at most 50 minutes long) a week and rest they are claiming as doing research ?!? Of course they will try everything to sustain this system.

  3. I don't just blame the universities but the corporations as well, it's a well known fact that the best jobs and companies won't even talk to you unless you have a degree or are a programming genius, if these corporations created diversion programs for non grads they could farm great young talent and circumvent the BS system, but they don't want to take the risk and lack the ingenuity

  4. College 25k a year the price I paid to eat, sleep, party (fraternity) , endless dating and of course football game. People talk about it but until it all changes, It's still just talk. Change has to come in middle school and high school level with academic and career training (apprenticeship and and training). That would mean more focus on jobs, manufacturing and ability to make living work wage. I have master degree but my brothers that went into military lives for extend mine greatly. If i had to do it all over again I would done military then college then cushy well-paid job. I could have retired twice by now with no student debt.

    This professor has nerve to write a book after he received tenure………academic smart dumb ass! Didn't write a text book. Wrote a book about how he living good life doing nothing and i cant get fired ….in your face suck it book! This what wrong with some schools.

  5. you can never become a doctor if you don't go to college
    you can never become a lawyer if you don't go to college
    you can never become a dentist if you don't go to college

  6. So when are employers going to start realizing that college doesn't necessarily produce better job candidates? A majority of my college educated peers needed a degree to obtain their current job, but aren't actually USING their degree.

  7. I decided to drop out of a public college, because college won't get you up and running to start working with confidence, because most of the things You'll be learning there has no practical use in a real life situation, and the useful matters are not covered in depth. Most Professors have never left a classroom to face a real job, They won't even be able provide students profissional experience, since all They did in their whole lives was only study. Futhermore Many of them won't even teach you as much as They can, because human are greedy and Professors take their lives for granted, as They have a high-salary paying job that Nobody will take it from them.

  8. there are only two degrees that are worth studying
    computer science, and electrical,mechanical,civil,chemical engineering

  9. Attending college, majoring in something useless and going deep into debt for that useless degree, makes absolutely no sense to me. Why attend college and major in something that has little to no demand in the market? Why spend 100k for a degree that will only make you something like $36,000 per year? It seems to be that decision making is a big problem here..

  10. This misses the whole point. No one tells the kids they first have to figure out what they want to do to make a living. Then what training, skills and credentials they need. If that’s from a college, fine. If not, go get them where one can. College just for the sake of college is an outdated notion.

  11. This spending of tax dollars out of control …when it should go on the books…American tax dollars should be spent on education ..laws and restricksions need to be placed …money laundering off taxpayer hard working backs..

  12. I thank God I never went to college. the first year out of high school I went out into the world of find my game. I ended up becoming a Merchant Marine and sailing around the world for 6 years. When you're in the real world you can see the truth if you pay attention. In the university's you think the teachers or professors are telling you the truth or what their point of view of the truth is. I remember during the sixties they used to say question authority. That means teachers and professors

  13. I used to work as a secretary in a NYC university nearly 20 years ago, and even then I saw this kind of thing happening all the time. The university graduated thousands of kids every semester with enormous debts and degrees that are worth nothing. Colleges know this, they know there are no jobs for these graduates, and they do it anyway. It is just greed. They don't care about the kids, because the college has their money. I also blame parents and anyone else who takes out these loans and pay these prices for useless college classes. Too many colleges all claim their degrees will give you a good job, but it is just a lie. This is the real lesson, never put out this kind of money if you have no way to pay it back. No degree is worth putting yourself in debt for life. Parents and young adults alike need to just stop paying the utterly ridiculous cost of colleges. Colleges keep raising prices because people keep paying—-and they need to stop. No employer cares what degree you have, all they want to know is what your experience is. A degree is essentially worthless 20 years ago, and today. Just get a job, doing anything. At least you won't have a huge debt hanging over your head for life.

  14. College is a business so they are going to try and get as much money out of a person as they can. That is why the government needs to be taken out of the equation. Let the market forces work. That will increase the quality of education and drive the costs down. Because then, people will shop for the best value.

  15. The biggest problem is that, at 18, you don't have foresight or honest direction. The whole "follow your passion" mantra is poison. If you know the game, college can still definitely be worthwhile.

    In highschool, take AP classes (I personally exempted 1 year of credit hours off of the core classes). Go to in-state school. Get scholarships. Have an obvious career plan and know what you need to do to get there before you take a single class. This way you graduate in 3 years, get out debt free, and have internships under your belt.

  16. College is just a business, College degree,diploma is just like an apparatus that can upgrade your resume For a better work but not for a better life,

  17. The education system is in business to sell student loans. The degree 📜 is just a piece of expensive paper that you will be paying back for the rest of your life.

  18. however much we lose in education, we lose even more in healthcare…but in healthcare, government can probably save US -.. www.walletswellness.com ( 3 minute read) you can approach expertise on this subject by studying the upper link (8.5 minute read) and this–> https://1drv.ms/w/s!AtF-bp5-5OWItCskC5rF0OlHncNA?e=8YhHd4 (9.5 minute read) – and if you want to learn even more, set up an AMA with me – this changes everything peoples health levels increase and shifts trillions back to communities nationwide

  19. China is winning when it comes to capitalism, they are innovating like crazy with their own jobs AND PRODUCTS in which america fails at creating, only thing they can create is more fat ass's with their food… One good thing about america is "food"… CHina will over takes the world with scientists already…. They don't have religion limiting their intelligence. Makes me sad as a america in which I See no change in JOBS or In innovating new ideas… nothing but the same bullshit over and over. Now the youth wants socialism… goodluck even when jobs are lacking lol. Once you scare away more corporations to foreign land, GG america, no jesus will you from the on coming depression.

  20. In 4 years BBA, u can learn something from Accounting, Economics and Statistics courses. Everything else is bulllshit.

  21. It's funny when I go to buy… and RV. I walk up and because of my appearance (very casual) they don't rush to help me. Until, that is, they find out I can drop a couple hundred thousand cash on a new RV. I didn't go to college and make WAY more than most who did.
    The highest earners don't have a degree or the debt associated.

  22. Is that your solution to the problem ? To make college not so affordable to people ? wow . Coming from a couple of educated guys like your selves sounds like a joke. Just like scientist not believing on what they can't prove. I guess that's a smart way. ..

  23. Sorry but this is dumb. Yeah college is overpriced and isn't for everyone but to call it a scam because people get worthless degrees is quite the reach

  24. I wonder how far Stossel and his naysayer guest would have gotten in life if they hadn’t gone to college? No one becomes a tenured professor with just a high school degree. Most tenured professors I know have PHD’s.

    Every job listing I see for a well paying job requires some level of education. Jobs that a few years ago required only a HS diploma now want a bachelors (do you really need a four year degree to run something as easy and as outdated as Excel?). The problem is that the bachelors degree is now on the same level with a high school degree. The masters is now on the same level with a bachelors and so on.

    Tech want CS majors to get a masters in CS which a few years ago wasn’t required. It is because of supply and demand. The tech company imports Indians who boost their resumes with sometimes shady credentials and they will work for pennies on the dollar. The only way US grads can compete with them is to get an MS or PHD in a subject that any eighth grader is a wiz at. CS bachelor degrees are totally worthless now along with math. The only two degrees worth anything from the stem category are in engineering and medicine.

  25. I'm a law student. I honestly think that it's one of the few degrees where you actually learn some stuff you'll need later – I mean, it's hard to be a judge if you don't know the law. I agree with you regarding many other subjects, though.

    I think the best solution would probably be for the state to stop subsidizing anything but actually important subjects. Medicine, engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, law, maybe economics and a few others. That's it. Those are the subject that actually teach people things they'll need later in life. It's a good thing to subsidize these subjects, because society as a whole profits from skilled people in those areas. It's therefore only fair to take some (albeit far less than nowadays) tax money to subsidize them. Everything else shouldn't be funded at all, period. Sociology, philosophy, theology etc. Nobody who studies these subjects learns anything they're going to put to use in their later job.

  26. Now a masters degree has become the equivalent of an HS Diploma.

    [edit] And this is why you bachelors degrees (the new G.E.D.) being required for entry level jobs that only pay just barely above minimum wage.

    Nice going, libshits.

  27. Doesn’t even matter if you have a degree anyway because employers want 20 years of experience so they don’t have to pay to train anybody god forbid. I’m so done with all of it and now I’m looking for apprenticeships

  28. government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem…. Ronald Reagan. never were truer words ever spoken about government and why the bigger the government the worse for it's people.

  29. A lot of people with college degrees have done very well. Look at Steve Martin (a degree in Philosophy). Think of all the films we've seen him in and you can probably imagine that this has made him a better actor, writer, producer and stand-up comic, etcetera.

  30. Look at John Stossel. I completed a double major in Biochemistry & Biophysics, and Chemistry (two degrees with emphasis in Biochemistry). and people look-up to you a little bit. And you feel good because you completed a course of study. You learn how to be a better and better student as you go along. You learn how to learn (in many different subjects and be organized). And conversely, this probably helps one be a better teacher if need be. 🙂

  31. Total scam because after you spend 4 years, tens of thousands or 6 -12 years and hundreds of thousands, you get hired to do the job their way, using their own tech and following their own "ethics" rules. So you could be taught the basic "language" of the field you're entering so you can understand the foundation of your new employer's system in a year or 2 and spend the other 2 to 10 working and gaining employment experience while getting paid.

  32. As someone who has two college degrees, I believe there are several things to keep in mind when anyone cites statistics that college graduates earn significantly more than those without degrees.

    First, keep in mind that those statistics typicall do not make a distinction between the fields of study. While it's true a degree in computer science or nursing will almost certainly get you a higher-paying job; a degree in philosophy, history, or gender studies is just about worthless at least in terms of earning potential. So when you hear college graduates make a lot more than those without degrees – keep in mind that throwing a handful of Rolex watches into a bin of Mickey Mouse watches will increase the average value of the items in the bin – but it won't increase the value of the Mickey Mouse watches on an individual basis.
    Second, it is important to realize that while people with college degrees do tend to earn more – it's not necessarily because of a direct cause-and-effect relationship between college degrees and earning potential. Oftentimes it's simply because people with college degrees are less likely to settle for lower-paying jobs. If you take me as an example, I graduated from a liberal arts school called Austin College in 1990 with a degree in liberal arts – and today I make about twice as much as the average US household. As much as Austin College would love to say that my 1990 degree from them resulted in my having a high-paying job now – the fact of the matter is several years after graduating from Austin College I went back to school to earn a degree in computer science from a state school in 1999. And while it's true my graduating from an expensive liberal arts school and my drive to get a good job arguably have the same root cause – namely that I came from a well-to-do family that valued higher education – it still doesn't mean that my 1990 degree in liberal arts has anything at all in terms of my current success.
    I'm not saying to not get a college degree. I'm not even trying to steer anyone away from a degree in liberal arts or gender studies, or to say that those types of degrees don't have their own merit. What I am saying is that if anyone decides to pursue a college degree because they believe any college degree will vastly increase their earning potential – well I hope they figure things out sooner than I did.

  33. I have gone to ten years of college obtaining 300 credits, and I support this message. Unless you become an engineer every other degree is pretty much worthless(this was said before watching the entire video). The educational system is rigged to keep you in it longer. The board of regents, is filled with rich people who know nothing about college. its sick. and the people who work under it have no idea what they are doing. 3 years in college my own personal degree was canceled. this was only one instance. there are several instances where I was entirely screwed over. the best advise I can give is to suffer through engineering school. Otherwise don't bother.

  34. if the course you are taking enable you to enter a profession than take the loans but don't go into bullshit courses that are only going to put you into debt

  35. Those who were crappy students always say “college is a scam.” And they want it to be free.

    If you don’t value it when it costs, because you are a crappy student, how will you value it if it’s free?

  36. If we vote for Bernie Sanders we could have free public college or technical school if they want to. We are falling way behind in education.
    Of course you don’t want people to go to college, they learn that corporations screw them over. This is what what propaganda looks like people. Wake up. How dare someone learn about social justice?! They might actually do good in the world.

  37. Professional golf caddie. No college. All life skills attained by 10th grade. 70k a year in 9 months of 4 hours a day (one round) and you can double that if you go 36 holes.

    Math was easy for me in k-12 lol!

    College is a racket

  38. Raise taxes to pay for normalization of an expensive and time consuming process to compete for a job that you're not sure you really want to do. I know so many people that have gotten their degrees and then realised it wasn't the job they thought it was. So now they are going through the process again to get a different job that they think they'll like better.

  39. Education is valuable if your field of study is valuable. Unfortunately, many people study non-valuable fields, because jobs require college degrees that do not need them!

  40. Public schools have received budget increases at ~ 3 times the rate of inflation since the early to mid 70's but yet the student outcomes have reached a point in Wisconsin at least, that 60% have been found unable to read or do math at grade level. I'm not sure but a grade average of 40% is not very good.

    The majority of those entering colleges and universities are having to take remedial courses before they even can begin their Freshman year.

    To add insult to injury, school audits are claiming that the schools in Wisconsin receive an "Acceptable" grade. Acceptable? Acceptable for what, creating new Democrat voters?

  41. College has been an antiquated system in the USA since the early 1990s. Many colleges are multibillion dollar corporations that pay zero taxes. 💯

  42. Every person that I know who went to college and got their degree, are working in entirely different fields to what they originally went to school for.

  43. It is all about the money and control of the masses.I know that when a politician boasts about the importance of education that they have become a new Crony who will raise your property taxes.

  44. Learn how people become rich. Learn how to invest and make your money work for you either from real estate or index funds. They don't teach you this in school because they want people to be a slave to the rat race.

  45. No ones trying to pay $100k for a college degree. Wages have remained stagnant for decades. I work with folks owing crippling dept with a Masters degree yet we have the same job. I know they hate paying that $1000 Stedent loan every month while mine is going into my savings. Sorry bout cha luck… suuuuckeeeerrr!

  46. I tried to go back to school after graduating high school 20 years ago. One, just ONE make up English class cost me over $300 and that was with the HOPE grant. Plus $75 for an online book that the teacher read THREE paragraphs out of the entire length of the course. I was also told I would be required to take algebra and other math classes to be a counselor. ALGEBRA COURSES TO BE A COUNSELOR!

  47. I own a mobile car wash and soon will have a location but I'm a high school drop-out I have no college degree and no debt I have my dream car and hopefully soon will hire employees my hiring requirements are easy must be 18+ must be American and must have some experience that's it

  48. Most people go to college just to get a leg up on the poor schmuck who didn't go to college. That's worse than making money from theft or gambling. In theft and gambling you gain only in so much as someone else loses. With college, not only is the previous sentence true, but on top of that the economy loses four years of productivity. I would support Affirmative Action for non-college graduates before I supported the government paying for college.

  49. The degree is a tool. Using the right tool and knowing how to use it is crucial. All the perks that the colleges offer are distractions. Maturity is a factor. The arguement that making college available to all only lowers the value of a degree is correct.

  50. Criminal democratic mafia operation to fund liberal communist candidates. Federal government takes over loan program, loans given to students in fake courses of study that have no real world occupations. Fake degrees in hand and no way to repay loans. Vote for socialist to steal from taxpayers and corporations to forgive loans. America destroyed and turned into Venezuela overnight. Brainless communist graduates go on welfare for life.

  51. Real Education: Amish people who study till 8th grade which teaches all aspects of life like being sincere to God and mankind and the best mathematics. They live DEBT FREE.

  52. Why is it that no one in this world can respect and appreciate me for my academic Pedegree. I have a bachelors degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri, which is mentioned in this video. I am a licensed engineer and professional traffic operations engineer. I am highly competent in skilled in the area traffic control devices including traffic lights and roadsigns. Quite frankly, I deserve more respect than I get from the public despite it being very obvious that I am very well-qualified and highly educated in a technical field, and every day working sometimes more than eight hours a day in a very important and critical part of our transportation infrastructure. If it were not for highly educated technical geniuses like myself, you would not be able to travel about your hometown and safely and efficiently as you do.

  53. Hmm…..an elitist wanting college not to be accessible but to only a few. I know there are problems with the educational system, schools for profit and the insane cost. This guy though doesn't have a solution and seems to be advocating for a class system with prestige being the utmost level based on formal education.

  54. Yeah it's rough though I know about cars, it's a trade so a little more forgiving, but my friend who went to school and who knew nothing about cars got a good job doing oil changes on FedEx trucks.

  55. Worst part is that I'm probably going to finish college a few years before the bubble bursts and my degree will be worth jack shit.

  56. College is just all a big lie they just try to get your attention so they can make more money off you and you are in a lot of debt student debt and you have a hard time trying to pay it off cause it gets in our way it's like a fly that keeps coming back

  57. Take the $20,000 you're going to spend on that year studying some liberal arts course and travel around Europe. It's a lot more educational.

  58. If you don't get any job skills at college then how can anyone become a doctor or lawyer. They wouldn't even be able to pass the test to get their license to practice medicine or law. Along with a whole host of other jobs that require a degree to get the job.

  59. Honestly it depends on you and your personality. If you are a charismatic attractive person then you can work your way up in the business world easily. If you lack charisma or even worse have poor social skills then you are screwed. You can go on saying people with college degrees are wasting their time but so are many people without them. I know plenty of people working the same crappy warehouse or retail job for 30-40 years. Some of these people are old and can't afford to retire. If you look at your degree as a business transaction and pick one according to supply and demand you should be alright. Having a degree doesn't guarantee a job but neither does not having one. Also I might just be a nerd but I enjoy math, reading, writing, history science etc. I like to expand my mind be challenged and learn skills I find interesting or interesting facts about life and humanity.

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