Only 59 percent of four-year college students graduate within six years. Those who graduate face an additional hurdle — only 56 percent of recent college graduates work in a job that requires a college degree (though the figure for all college graduates is 67 percent, suggesting some underemployed graduates move up later in their careers).Cooper treats the low graduation rate as a problem. Heretically, let me suggest that you view it instead as a feature.
Multiplied together, these numbers suggest that only 33 percent of students who enter college emerge with both a degree within six years and a relevant job soon after graduation.
A degree demonstrates to a potential employer the degree holder successfully completed a long and difficult task. Demonstrating that quality is no small accomplishment, it screens out the 41 percent who do not graduate.
Some 44 percent of college graduates work in jobs not requiring a degree. As Cooper notes it is often a result of poor choice of major. Students who make a self-indulgent choice, who major in underwater basket weaving, philosophy, psychology/sociology/anthropology, communications or women's/black/Asian/gay/Hispanic studies find their degrees singularly unhelpful in finding meaningful employment.
Again, this is a feature of the current arrangement, not a problem. Choice of major is a clear way to demonstrate practicality and a bottom-line orientation.
Most often employers seek employees who are task-oriented, not self-indulgent or impractical. The current arrangement pre-screens job applicants for industry and government.