I came across and interesting piece by Michael Barone on National Review’s website, where he analyzes the steady decline of college enrollment over the past five years. Higher-education enrollment has declined from 20.6 million in 2011 to 19 million in 2016, which represents a nearly 10 percent drop in enrollment; this is based on a study by Ohio University economists Richard Vedder and Justin Strehle. And while the drop was concentrated primarily in community colleges and for-profit schools, enrollment has been flat at the large four-year universities, and they reported that law-school enrollment has actually plunged by 31 percent over the last five years.
Now this is all on top of what we talked about in an earlier video where we found that freshman enrollment at the University of Missouri has fallen by an astounding 35 percent since those Black Lives Matter-inspired riots, you know, when that idiot professor Melissa Click demanded some “muscle” to physically remove a student journalist. Now, as of 2016, Mizzou had lost an estimated 2,100 students, which represents 23 percent of its freshman class, and an overall drop of nearly 10 percent of the total student population. And this has cost the school approximately $30 million in revenue, and has caused the school to shut down three of its dorms. Well, as it turns out, the hemorrhaging of students continues, it’s even worse than projected, with freshman enrollment down by a whopping 35 percent.
Now the study’s authors, Vedder and Strehle, give their own assessments as to why this is happening, why the universities are seeing such a dramatic decline in their student enrollment. One argument is that the costs of higher education keep rising while the returns for a college diploma are getting worse. So tuition has risen by nearly 75 percent since 2000, all while the earnings differential between just high-school grads and college grads actually fell by 10 percent. So it is just not really worth it anymore. But Barone points out in addition that for years, policymakers subsidized both higher education and homeownership, since they noticed that college graduates and homeowners contributed to a more stable society and vibrant economy; they earned more, they had stronger community ties than others. The thinking was that more subsidies would produce more of both. However, we all know the law of unintended consequences: over-subsidization led to the bursting of a housing bubble, and it seems to be leading now to the bursting of the higher-education bubble. So just as foreclosures were adversely affecting the beneficiaries of housing subsidies who could no longer make their outrageous mortgage payments, so now student loan-debt – which is by the way higher than credit card debt – is adversely affecting the supposed beneficiaries of the loans. And of course, this federally guaranteed student loan subsidy has allowed universities to jack up their tuition prices disproportionately. I mean, if it’s been guaranteed that no matter what they charge, the Federal government will payback whatever students can not, then why wouldn’t you set your yearly costs to 30, 50, 70 grand a year? Why wouldn’t you?
But Barone goes on to point out that there may be a political explanation for this loss of enrollment every bit as significant as an economic causation. And of course, what he means is the collapse of any form of historic liberal arts curriculum on college campuses today in favor of a radical, far-left political and social agenda. According to Julie A. Reuben’s study, The Making of the Modern University, from 1880 to 1930, there was a dramatic shift from the liberal arts college to the modern research university. At the heart of this shift was the redefinition of knowledge as specific solely to science and scientific processes; all other disciplines that failed the tests of empirical verifiability were excluded from the domain of what could be known. So by the mid-twentieth-century, Reuben observes that most colleges had abandoned almost entirely moral education in the academic disciplines, since the kind of knowledge that undergirded the teaching of the moral virtues had been eclipsed by scientific and technological reasonings and concerns.
And as C. John Sommerville argues in his book, The Decline of the Secular University, the commitment to secularization in the modern research university has, in effect, abandoned the conception of what it means to be human. And this is because the secular entails a materialistic reductionism that renders all questions regarding the nature of what it means to be human obsolete. The question itself is simply too religious in nature to be answered by a secularized institution. And this loss of human and moral formation in the modern university created a vacuum, which was filled with the rise of so-called multiculturalism. And as Roger Kimball details in his 1990 study, Tenured Radicals, the traditional literary canon so central to the liberal arts vision of fostering a virtuous citizenry was increasingly relativized to an expanding literature centered on gender, race, and sexuality and the like. So instead of the masterpieces of Western culture, students at Stanford, for example, could take a class on the Navajos called “Our Bodies, Our Sheep, Our Cosmos, Ourselves.”
And we now have analytics that demonstrate over and over again that these left-wing secular professors overwhelmingly donate to the Democratic Party. The Washington Times has reported that 99 percent of liberal arts professors donated to the Democrats during the 2016 campaign. It goes on and on. 80 percent of Lehigh faculty, 85 percent of Harvard faculty, donate to the secular liberal political party and politician.
So I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude that in the midst of a traditionalist tide sweeping our society, in the midst of our resurgent nationalism and populism, more and more people do not want to have any more to do with this political absurdity, than they want to deal with CNN and the lamestream media. Online education and the rise of conservative affordable Christian schools have provided an alternative for student enrollment that does not have to deal with this secular liberal multicultural nonsense disguised as scholarship and academics. It’s just cheap partisan politics; quite literally nothing more!
And to add fuel to this ideological fire, as Barone points out, now college and university administrators have done more to encourage, and little to nothing to discourage, full-blown campus violence. Here we can think of the attacks on Charles Murray at Middlebury, the riots that exploded at Berkeley in protest against Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos, the violent protests that greeted and disrupted Heather MacDonald, author of the War on Cops from Claremont, and most recently you have this violent insanity directed towards Evergreen professor Bret Weinstein for refusing to stay off campus on what they called “no whites” day at Evergreen State. So much for diversity! So much for multiculturalism! Hey, what if my culture doesn’t honor ‘no whites’ day, no more than a Muslim honors Christmas, now what? Well we know the answer to that. The university administration turns into a mafia, and looks the other way when their thugs come in and threaten or rough up anyone who would even dream of resisting their new enlightened multicultural world order.
And so you have articles like the one written by Edward Schlosser entitled “I’m A Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me.” Well, what do you expect? What do you expect from a bunch of angry multiculturalists who see things like traditional society and white-privilege as the greatest threats to humanity, but then they don’t have the moral formation and wisdom tradition by which to inform and guide their actions!!! They think conservatives are the greatest threats to humanity and yet they have not a clue what it actually means to be human!!! Right? How can we possibly say Black Lives Matter when we don’t even know why life matters? What do you expect is going to happen in this midst of this moral illiteracy, this secular insanity?
I for one am very encouraged that enrollment in these insane asylums is plummeting and it does appear that it will continue to plummet. Like I said, online courses, distance ed, the rise of conservative Christian colleges that are affordable are all providing very positive alternatives from the crazy campuses of so many secular and culturally Marxist colleges today. And in so doing, I think we are seeing a major step towards the defunding of the political left and its promoted policies. So we will continue to keep our eye on this trend, and most certainly hope that it continues.
For more on baptism and the Apostle Paul’s vision of a sacramental society, see my book, The Ritualized Revelation of the Messianic Age: Washings and Meals in Galatians and 1 Corinthians, available here.