All posts tagged: associate degree

The College Degree Isn’t Dead

The College Degree Isn’t Dead

For much of the past century, America believed that college was essential to upward mobility. A four-year degree has long been a symbol of the American dream, seen as a way to ensure that millions of students could be better off than their parents and grandparents. Today, however, that faith is plummeting. A Gallup poll earlier this year found that Americans’ confidence in higher education has fallen to a new low of 36 percent, down from 57 percent in 2015. Although a record share of Americans had a bachelor’s degree as of 2021, degree skepticism and pandemic-related disruptions led undergraduate enrollment to drop 8 percent from 2019 to 2022. This article has been adapted from Wildavsky’s forthcoming book. This pessimism is understandable. The earnings advantage afforded by a bachelor’s degree, although still sizable, has leveled off in the past 15 years while tuition has continued to rise. And according to the National Student Clearinghouse, 40 million Americans have enrolled in college but haven’t ultimately graduated—an all-time high. As a result, college has left many students …