Is There an Education Bubble?

I’m not the first to talk about the U.S. possibly being in the midst of an education bubble. When I say “education bubble,” I mean too many people with undergraduate (and above) degrees, too few decent-paying jobs and crushing college debt. It may be useful to make a short comparison to the housing bubble and subsequent crisis:

  • A cultural and governmental belief that owning a home creates/solidifies a middle class (2.5 kids, white picket fence, you know the deal). Thus, cultural and governmental policies promoting homeownership led to subprime mortgages and the housing crisis.
    • In education, a cultural and governmental belief that higher education is a must for everyone has led to a cultural expectation and policies promoting obtaining at least an undergraduate degree.
  • When the ARMs and subprime mortgages – and Wall Street’s whimsical financial creations – came due and the bubble burst, the houses were underwater, worth less than what was owed. For many, there was no way out but foreclosure (and government bailout).
    • Similarly, massively debt-ridden, over-qualified and under- or unemployed college graduates find themselves with an education that can’t be absorbed by the market and a debt that can’t be paid. That is, they’re underwater. And, for many, that may very well mean a running default on many student loans (they’ll take your tax refund, though).

With the above in mind, I’d like to gather y’alls’ comments and ideas on a possible education bubble. Please post them in the comments or e-mail them to me, if you like (willpate-at-gmail).

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