The sole value of a college degree may be in how it “positions you better in the job market” even if you learned very little from your time in school.
All that the favorable job statistics for college graduates tell us is that having a degree positions you better in the job market compared with people who do not have those credentials….
A college degree is a credential used for screening out job applicants.
… Many employers who need workers for jobs that require only basic abilities and a decent attitude now screen out people who don’t have college degrees. Companies looking to hire for positions such as sales supervisor and rental car agent, for instance, often state that they’ll only consider applicants who’ve graduated from college. What they studied or how well they did is largely beside the point.
How much college graduates learned is often beside the point.
The individual who studies, say, chemical engineering and thereby acquires the essential background for a career in that field probably gets a splendid return on the time and money spent on college. But on the other hand, the individual who leaves high school with weak skills and scant interest in academic work, enrolls in school with low standards (perhaps a “party school”), chooses an easy major and breezes along to a degree four or five years later is likely to end up working in a low-skill job that an intelligent high schooler could do. That person, even though employed, is getting a negligible return—possibly even negative—on his college investment.