There are plenty of reasons not to go to college, for men and women alike. They’re outrageously expensive, they host and protect predators, they’re full of dumb people who care more about their bureaucracy than their students, and they teach students to lie, in addition to all the other liberal nonsense that is degrading both the moral and civic virtue of the Millennial Generation.
The value of the degree itself is degrading as the supply of college graduates inflates, while the demand for college-educated workers is broadly decreasing (example: just today, a coworker mentioned that a local utility company was hiring linemen apprentices — with no prior experience — at $38/hour; journeymen make >$50/hour). And of course, the quality of the degree is decreasing too, in order to match the new waves of cognitively unqualified students. In short, there’s plenty of reasons not to go, and there really aren’t any good reasons to go. Unless you will simply die if you don’t become a doctor or a lawyer (if that is the case, one must wonder ‘why?’), it simply doesn’t make sense.
But I want to make a case particular to parents with daughters. As a father with a daughter myself, and a voluntary “drop-out” of sorts (I have an Associates Degree, and ditched a 4-year Bachelor’s program to become a truck-driver), I have some skin in the game on this argument, which is based as much on personal experience as on research.
Let me start with an illustrative analogy.
One of the big criticisms that’s been levied against the online/social-media dating apps is that they artificially increase the supply of prospective partners. This artificial surplus devalues actual real-life prospects and creates a “plenty of fish in the sea” mentality that discourages commitment and encourages “keeping your options open.”
Good relationships and marriages are grounded on commitment, and most kids know this (at least in the abstract), but to compound their own temptations, they’re in a game of self-value chicken with their hypothetical partner, who also has all of these other options. In order to avoid getting devastated, many of them won’t commit too much because they know their partner is likely to break up with them, if a better option comes their way.
Needless to say, the number of partners who will “date” your daughter is much higher than the number who will actually be in a relationship with her, all posturing to the contrary. This fact is exacerbated by — you guessed it — the massive supply of aggregated young women, all in one place, “exploring” and “keeping their options open.” In short, the dating apps are ego-feeding relational poison that promote short-term gratification at the expense of building anything that will last.
And it’s worse than it sounds: the deeper one invests in this culture of hook-ups, options, and “freedom,” the harder it is to change. Not only will the number of potential serious partners decline as they (perhaps rightly) categorize your daughter as “not-marriage material” (or “r-selected,” for you nerds; “hot” but not “beautiful”) but the girls themselves will have a harder time shifting their priorities and lifestyles because to do so might be an admission of some mistake. Think of it as an emotional sunk-cost fallacy.
That’s dating apps.
Now to begin with colleges and universities, all of the above about love and relationships applies, perhaps even more strongly. Students are not just surrounded with images of hundreds of young, available people, but the actual people themselves. The ideology of “growth,” “exploration,” and “freedom” is actively and explicitly encouraged by the courses — and ethos of the schools themselves — rather than just passively taken advantage of as on dating apps. The geographic relocation severs their ties to their parents, their community growing up, and the values and obligations associated with both. The little reminders and cues are hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles away. And of course, the understood temporary nature of college attendance — most likely two to four years — gives a feeling of impermanence and unimportance to one’s actions in that time and place. For this last reason, “the college experience” and its variants (“a learning period,” a “time of exploration”) have practically become modern euphemisms for “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
It is perhaps worth mentioning that the form of this criticism is not limited to the dating market and one’s romantic prospects. This separation/inculcation problem applies to student’s identities in all manner of ways, including national identity, racial identity, religious beliefs, and nowadays, even gender and species identities. Academia prides itself on being “objective,” but the very same criticism they make of other intellectual environments can apply to them as well, which is this: ideas are often the product of necessity and environment more than they are of objective analysis. Is it just a coincidence that colleges seem to unanimously agree upon the value of travel, individualism, atheism, and liberal social policy? Or might the very nature of the institution and what benefits it have something to do with this agreed-upon ethos?
The philosopher Xenophanes once said that if cattle had Gods and could draw, they would depict their Gods as cattle. It would conform with my research and my personal experience with academic administrative types if schools composed their values based in their own image. If you sent a lion to a gazelle school, he would return to the pride preaching veganism; send the gazelle to the lion’s college, and he would return to the herd an “uncle Tom,” defending the justice of the carnivore’s predation.
This is not “education.” This is just wealth transference mixed with psychological warfare.
Predation is bad enough at the civic and cultural level. But with women, it takes on a particularly personal meaning that cannot be stressed heavily enough. I don’t particularly agree with the scale of the claim, but it shouldn’t be ignored that progressives are calling rape an “epidemic” on college campuses. Of course, the more likely predation is the softer, less traumatizing hook-up culture that seduces women away from commitment and real relationships. Fiercely independent and hyper-empowered women may be exceptions to this trend (one can’t help but notice how they become less exceptional every day, seemingly in direct relationship with female enrollment rates), but even they ostensibly don’t like getting raped. And when you do look at their rape stories, they often bear an uncanny similarity to mere regret and bitterness. At risk of offending actual rape victims, perhaps the predation of “pump-and-dump” pick-up-artists and partying frat-boys is in some way comparable to the predation of a rapist.
A final word for any high-school or college-aged young women who might be reading this: I understand that you are probably the exception. I get that you probably won’t fall prey to the tricks and tactics that get those other dumb girls. You’re too smart, too aware, too grounded, too centered, too mature to be taken in. Besides, you’ll be too busy. After all, you’re there to learn things. You won’t have time for partying! Perhaps none of this applies to you.
But perhaps it does.
When Tristan Harris was interviewed on the Sam Harris podcast, the professional ethicist laid out all the tricks and traps used by Silicon Valley to capture people’s attention. Tristan Harris has worked in tech and social media for decades, and described attending conferences full of people working at the cutting edge of grabbing and holding users captive. Of all people who might be immune to the wiles and traps used to make social media addictive, you would expect these to be the people. Yet curiously, Tristan described them as being just as susceptible as anyone else. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know enough. The problem was that they were human, and the techniques of manufacturing digital addiction are designed around human psychology.
This is not an appeal to some unique weakness or vulnerability in women. I left college in part because I did not want to be corrupted by its lies and bullshit. A friend of mine had suggested that I try to “change the system from within.” Though I didn’t mention it at the time, it struck me as akin to suggesting that a chicken change a meat-grinder from within. The school system is designed to alter young people. That is its explicit function, and its bureaucracy makes it very, very difficult to alter. Administrators and tenured faculty have a hard enough time trying to do that.
In recommending that you not go to college, I am not suggesting that you are stupid, or gullible, or weak, or anything of the sort. I am suggesting that you are human, and possessing the instincts and psychology of a human that makes you susceptible to large organizations designed to change and manipulate humans.
I am singling out women for two reasons. First, in the dating world, there is an asymmetry in forgiveness. It is easier for men to recover from mistakes, so long as they accomplish something. For women, accomplishment simply does not matter as much to prospective husbands, but mistakes are harder to recover from. A woman who has had sex with 10 or 20 guys is likely to be thought of as un-marriable, at least by the sorts of guys she is likely to desire as a husband. Generally speaking, the more, the worse.
And the second, more obvious reason is that men are already dropping out of college.
So if you are a high school or college age woman, consider the risks with humility and objectivity. Perhaps you are an aspiring doctor. Well then, perhaps you are an exception. Most likely, you are not. In either case, look to where your values come from, and where they lead: historically, politically, culturally, spiritually, and personally.
Then make the decision for yourself.