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Bruce Bialosky

America’s Grifters

The definition of a grifter is a con artist; someone who pulls confidence games; a swindler, scammer, huckster, hustler, and/or charlatan. It is also said if there’s one type of person you don’t want to trust, it’s a grifter: someone who cheats others out of money. Grifters are also known as chiselers, defrauders, gougers, scammers, swindlers, and flim-flam men. A recent study showing how many college graduates work long-term in a job warranting a college degree leads me to conclude America’s grifters are those people who run our colleges.

One doesn’t go to college simply to improve one’s path to earn a living. I am one who has consistently applauded my education — especially the first two years — for expanding my mind. I took such courses as philosophy, cultural anthropology, and speech. They taught me to think and analyze life from different perspectives. I also always had direction to graduate with an accounting degree and become a CPA. My first two years cost ten dollars per college unit, and I graduated debt-free while paying my own way.

It seems clear that accumulating debt in the tens of thousands would result in a career tied to a particular college degree. But a recent study by the Burning Glass Institute brings into question why are so many people are attending college and spending huge sums to obtain a degree.

Perhaps it makes sense that one doesn’t immediately get that job warranting that degree. In reality, just 52% of college graduates have a position that warrants a college degree one year after they graduate.

One might think that numbers would begin to significantly increase over the ensuing years. That figure climbs to only 55% five years’ post-graduation, dispelling the belief in that notion. At ten years after graduation, the figure remains at 55% of college graduates having a position that warrants a college degree. Otherwise, ten years after graduating college, 45% of college graduates are supporting themselves seemingly for the rest of their lives without using that degree yet seduced into the immense cost.

Burning Glass points to the proliferation of college majors that lead nowhere. For example, our son was looking at obtaining a college degree in sports administration. We looked at how many schools were offering degrees in the area and concluded the closest many of these graduates were going to come to utilizing their degree was running a Footlocker store. The University of Kansas Athletic Director advised us a business degree would be the path to work in his department.

Additionally, the proliferation of college degrees has been forced by false requirements established by employers — especially larger national or international companies. Human Resource administrators willy-nilly establish criteria for obtaining a position when there is no specific need for a college degree. An individual’s hands-on experience may be a better barometer of their ability to accomplish the goals of the position.

Fortunately, companies are waking up to the reality that experience and aptitude equal or better qualifications for many positions. A well-known online recruiting platform showed a drop from 18% of positions requiring college degrees to 14.5% from 2022 to 2023 as more companies abandon the false narrative that a college degree is necessary for many positions.
This does not address the substantial number of students who incur debt for college yet never obtain a degree. A great many colleges apply social pressure by suggesting the absence of college equates to a middling existence. Fifty percent of people who start college never finish.

Colleges take in the money, largely financed by federal loan dollars, and never look back. They advise students on how to rack up $50,000, $100,000 or $200,000 of student loan debt without ever advising the students on the ramifications of starting their careers with that burden. Woody Allen made a movie in1969 with a perfectly apt title: Take the Money and Run.

They now have a savior. Joe Biden continues to illegally transfer that debt to the backs of the American people. He promises more transfers of the debt from students with new schemes to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The good thing is many students have woken up to this legalized theft. According to the Education Data Initiative, enrollment statistics indicate that more Americans are forgoing higher education. In 2010 college enrollment peaked. Since then, in 2023, enrollment has declined 9.8% nationwide, according to High school graduate enrollment has declined by 7.3% year over year.

What is a clearer definition of a grifter than someone who steals your money and gives you nothing in return? And now some colleges are proudly announcing their annual cost will hit $90,000. It is high time we wake up to the scam many colleges are running where they are taking money from uninformed customers and giving them back little to nothing.