Now, more than ever, we view a college degree as an absolute prerequisite for a minimally decent life. And if we’re in the upper middle class, it has to be a degree from an elite school. Kids who a generation or two ago would have gone to a local college, or the state university, are now applying to Harvard University. And since the number of slots at those elite colleges has barely budged, parents are essentially trying to push an ever-larger number of kids through a medium-sized funnel.Back in the good old days, the finer families had an easier time putting their kids on the fast route to success. Now, with all these upstart proles horning in, it's time to tell everyone to calm down, back off, and quit trying so damned hard.
She doesn't mean to be saying that, but that's what I'm seeing between the lines. It seems to me that it's up to the individual to decide how competitive you want to be and what kind of competition you want to enter. That's going to change the mix of who ends up at Harvard and all the lesser institutions lined up underneath it. When it's packed with hyper-earnest, Little Miss Perfects, what will be the great benefit of having a friendship network of other people who went to Harvard?
And it's simply not true that "Now, more than ever, we view a college degree as an absolute prerequisite for a minimally decent life." Where I live, you can be governor without a college degree — governor and a hot prospect for next President of the United States. And Google gives me over 57 million hits on the search successful people who didn't finish college.
But McArdle probably knows her audience. They are those "we’re in the upper middle class, it has to be a degree from an elite school" people who look at their kid and think: Egad, what an insufferable drudge sprang forth from my loins and yet I must tiger-mom forward and ensure that the prize is