We are learning two things.
1. Since the 50s, we know the main reason the majority of citizens seek a degree from a college or university is to become more upwardly mobile. Nevertheless, the evidence shows social mobility is becoming more limited. So, the ideological composition of the populace as individuals in a free market with the freedom to work and spend their way to success is much more fantastic, much more a known fiction, than it ever has been before. In other words, people are kidding themselves.
2. The wealthiest people are finding it easier to educate themselves at the best schools and the poorest people are finding it more difficult to afford education at all, while the middle classes are attending whatever schools they can find to attend.
I taught at a city college and two universities. One university was a state school; the other cost more than $30,000/year. The city college, which used to be a school for non-traditional students and poor students, is becoming more and more a school for the middle classes of Denver. Tuition is not as cheap as it used to be.
I found the linked Crooked Timber post engaging because so many people seem willing to uncritically accept the myth that college and university are a path to upward mobility and that more students are attending. It’s not necessarily so, and for important reasons. In my mind, this is more evidence that the middle class is populated with people who have more faith in ideology than they do in what we like to call reality. Their stubbornness is rather hard to explain. In a society that insists they only be happy with accumulating possessions, land, and money, they are getting less and less and doing nothing about it.
Highly recommended. Both the blog, the links, and the comments.
(I’m posting this with the recent insipid posts from one blogger in my mind—posts about how students need to choose appropriate degrees and shut up about about their debts while bragging about himself and his social mobility. He knows who he is and is quite smug about it. I’m still fuming about his arrogant, naive posts, which almost daily grow more self-involved and childish. Student bloggers often couch bragging in scolding fellow students for complaining, illustrating a rather depressing acceptance of ideological composition as individualists and consumers.)