Recently US Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has suggested that either people educate themselves beyond the basic high school education, or they will end up in prison. Perhaps that was a bit of an overstatement. Specifically, he said
This is just the latest in a decades long push to push people through the higher education system. And the result of that is not pretty.
Let us start at the beginning. In the 1970’s, the US Supreme Court ruled in Griggs vs Duke Power, that what are essentially IQ tests could not be a condition for employment; any test assessed must be highly specific to the position under consideration. So what could employers use as a surrogate to IQ style tests? Using a University education for this was the result. The potential employer provided this education himself, at no cost to the employer. Furthermore, it shows not just intelligence, but general industriousness. A reasonably good surrogate indeed.
At the time, Universities were still Universities. They had a lefty bent, but the old guard was still there; and they still taught critical thought. And getting a degree was not necessarily easy. But all of the thinking required was hard, and lots of the subjects were dry and not much fun. Furthermore, the subjects taught did not allow students to feel good about themselves. Developing intellectual capability is all fine and dandy (though lots of work), but it did not easily lend itself to students showing off their awesomeness; as real intellectual capability would not necessarily impress the people that they wanted to impress (and would come off as show-offy).
Another problem was that women were starting to enter the Universities in large numbers. And they are really not so interested in STEM and the like. Or even Classical Philosophy. What to do with all of these women? Well, one could expand the social work, psychology, and sociology departments. But one could do more.
Why not develop something that solves the above two issues? This, the Universities did; with the flowering of grievance studies being the result. So here were subjects that required little real intellectual work, and basically spoon fed them with a notion of superiority for gobbling the subject up. The Universities are happy, the Cultural Marxists are happy, the students are happy; what is not to like. We will soon get to that.
But wait, there is more. Women like to operate in classroom in terms of what might be called girl style learning. That is, they like to memorize stuff and regurgitate it dutifully. Out with critical thinking, in with memorization.
Now let us return to the beginning. The biggest push in the US toward college was Griggs vs. Duke Power; where once again, the degree was an indicator of intelligence and industriousness. With the degrees obtained by lots of women (and lots of men also), does this still apply?
To answer the question, probably it does somewhat still apply to STEM degrees. In doing work in the actual STEM fields themselves, intelligence talks and BS walks. And to do STEM right, critical thinking is required. To caveat this, the push toward people obtaining STEM degrees has diluted present day education; where even STEM fields have started emphasizing memorize and regurgitate, as this is what marginal students really want (and the Universities don’t want to lose their money by flunking them).
So where does this leave us? Probably such that anybody with a non STEM degree came out of the University effectively dumber than when they went in. Of course that is an over-generalization, but by how much?
Note that in this case STEM is effectively generalized to include vocations such as nursing, HVAC, welding, etc. For non-americans, vocational style degrees are often offered at two year colleges.