Monday, January 5, 2009

The Price of Qualifications

George Will's recent op-ed is a love-hate essay for me. On the one hand, Will convincingly points out that if not for a 1971 Supreme Court decision, then many more jobs would be available to high school graduates based on the merit of employee examinations. People *should* be hired on knowledge and ability to do the job. The illegality of these tests -- due to discrimination -- has also caused the "measure" for hiring to be a college degree, which in-and-of itself is rather arbitrary. Furthermore, this requirement has put better jobs out of reach for many, many people who cannot afford to shoulder college expenses (especially as tuition costs have risen). 

On the other hand, although I see the logic in that argument -- and agree with it -- I have a hard time agreeing with one of the implications: "Motivating more people to get a college degree is bad." There has been an explosion in Americans attending college -- in part due to the necessity for obtaining a job. And this makes for a more informed, healthier -- college graduates live longer and are happier on average -- population. 

A solution to reconcile this tension: make college affordable!

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