Most People Don’t Graduate From College

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A persistent problem with MSM coverage of young people is the fairly relentless focus on attendees and graduates of selective colleges. So I think Jamelle Bouie’s response to the latest NYT Magazine article on twentysomethings is spot on. There’s good in the piece, but:

That said, my main problem with the piece was simply the fact that there wasn’t much of an attempt at making class distinctions. It delves into the “extended adolescence” of relatively sheltered graduates from major universities, but what about the mass of 20-somethings who either didn’t go to college, or pursued degrees at community colleges and local universities? I graduated from a high school of roughly 2,400 people in 2005, and judging from the Facebook profiles of those I graduated with, many of my former classmates have built fairly adult lives for themselves. Most have jobs and live independently of their parents. Some have spouses or long-term partners, a few have children. For those who do live with their parents, it has less to do with maturity, and more to do with the terrible job market. Obviously, anecdotes can’t substitute for statistical data, but I’d wager that the above is true for many 20-somethings of modest means.

Most Americans don’t have bachelor’s degrees, and this is true at all age cohorts. What’s more, most Americans who do go to college don’t go to schools with selective admissions. Obviously, lots of people with BAs from selective schools have problems in life, and their problems (our problems, my problems) count in the moral scheme of things. But the less-privileged have more pressing problems and are also more numerous.