If there is one message that America sends loudly, clearly, and consistently to our youth, it is this: Go to college. We operate our high schools as college prep academies. We offer more than $150 billion in annual public subsidies to college students. Our culture defines the campus experience as the sine qua non of a successful life, while also advertising it as a veritable amusement park entitlement: a bacchanalia that offers enrichment classes you should attend at least sometimes.
Politicians now argue with a straight face for simply waving away tens of thousands of dollars of student debt per borrower, as if financial obligations incurred in the ivory tower deserve some special status that we would never accord to the lowly car loan or home mortgage.
This message is a bad one. Yes, for people with the academic aptitude to succeed in college and the desire to pursue a career that requires the training only higher education can provide, the college pathway is the right one. But that is not most people.