Here’s Joseph Epstein, writing in his book Snobbery, about higher education in Mencken’s time. I think it’s safe to say that ivy things have only deteriorated since the 1920s:
H.L. Mencken, who also didn’t bother to go to college, thought it a comically, pathetically wasteful interlude, four years spent listening to hopeless pedagogues and engaged in inane social activities, and surely one that anybody who had any choice in the matter would prefer to bypass.
And students in the 1920s didn’t come out with indebtedness higher than most first mortgages.
Epstein earlier elaborated on his Mencken-ish views, with these words:
Most people come away from college, happy souls, quite unscarred by what has gone on in the classroom. The education and culture they are presumably exposed to at college never lay a glove on them. That is the big dirty secret of higher education in America.
Of course, higher education, as an institution, doesn’t care. It’s untouchable, in league as it is Hudge and Gudge (big government and big business). How else do you explain why kindergarten teachers are required to obtain a master’s degree in education and a host of other absurdities?