The Diminishing Returns Of A College Degree

In the mid-1970s, far less than 1% of taxi drivers were graduates. By 2010 more than 15% were.

In the 375 years between 1636, when Harvard College was founded, and 2011, college enrollments in the United States rose almost continuously, rarely undergoing even a temporary decline. When the American Revolution began in 1775, only 721 students attended the nine colonial colleges. By 2010 enrollments had surpassed 20 million.

Yet from 2011 to 2016, the National Student Clearinghouse reports, total higher education enrollments declined every fall, falling to 19 million from 20.6 million. Although the declines were concentrated in community colleges and for-profit institutions, even many traditional four-year schools saw previously steady enrollment growth come to an end. Many smaller schools have even missed their annual enrollment goals.

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