By Allie Conti
I graduated from college in 2011, right in the middle of the recession. I also went to graduate school at great financial cost, which is something I will have to reckon with for the rest of my adult life. While I believe that higher education is valuable, I also did not pursue a PhD because it seemed like a fool’s errand. Adjuncts live in poverty in hopes of getting a tenured position that is almost impossible to obtain, and the Science Wars of the 90s, which culminated in a physicist trolling a post-modern academic journal by publishing a fake paper, strongly influenced my decision to stop at a Master’s.
Meanwhile, Charles Sykes, an author and senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, has spent most of his life railing against the academy and has written multiple books about how college degrees have become increasingly worthless. It’s not hard to see his point when graduates are saddled with student loan debt and many people with Bachelor’s are taking barista gigs or moving back in with their parents. I spoke with him about his latest work, Fail U (out August 9 on St. Martin’s Press), which explores many of the issues facing students and universities today, including the education bubble, as well as if going to college is worth it at all. As Sykes describes the text, it’s an “I told you so book,” since a lot of the criticisms he laid out in his first book on higher education published in 1988 have not only gained mainstream acceptance, but the issues have actually gotten worse.
I spoke to the author about why fewer people should be pursuing four-year degrees, the fallacy of college for all, and how all of his fears about the state of higher education have come to fruition in the latest stage of America’s culture wars. CONTINUE READING HERE