‘Joe College’: A Modest Proposal to Improve Joe Biden’s College Plan

In his first campaign appearance in New Hampshire, Joe Biden declared that “12 years of education is not enough anymore.” He advocated two free years of community college for all students. In July, he progressed to the full Bernie Sanders plan, calling for free college tuition without the two-year limitation.

The former vice president is thinking too small. It isn’t subsidized college attendance Americans need. That’s been true for some time, but it’s even more obvious in our “new normal” age of eternal pestilence. Today’s college classes are amateur media productions less professional than the average YouTube channel. 

Classes aren’t what the rising generation requires anyway. Degrees are what they need. This is the key insight.

If we truly want all Americans to have the benefit of a college degree, a bolder, more modern solution than merely financing tuition is required.

Fortunately, a simple solution is well within our national means.

The United States Congress should simply pass a law granting a college degree to every adult American.

The advantages of this legislation should be immediately obvious. The cost of printing and distributing college diplomas will be far less than the cost of housing, entertaining, and propagandizing undergraduates for a period of four or five years. It will also allow them to enter the workforce immediately, and at the higher initial salary rates accorded to a person with a college degree.

Conferring a degree immediately on every American will provide an immediate economic boost and be a real morale builder! That’s just the beginning, though. Fine-tuning this policy can also help us address other social issues.

For instance, historical imbalances can be adjusted. Women, traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields, should all receive degrees in STEM subjects. Since jobs in those fields are generally higher-paying, this will also go a long way towards reducing the wage gap. And who will dare to repeat tired old stereotypes about male and female brains,once there are far more women than men holding STEM degrees?

Many problems generated by privilege could be eliminated at the same time. The most dangerous Americans, those who are currently guilty of membership in both the privileged gender and the privileged racial group, will all be awarded degrees in Intersectional Studies. When every white male is awarded an Intersectional Studies degree, all manner of evil will disappear. No Intersectional Studies major can be an oppressor, after all.

A few nay-sayers may be saying, at this point, “ . . . but you’ll be giving degrees to people who have not actually learned anything.” Yes, we will. 

But this already has been going on for many years, just in a less equitable fashion. Studies have shown that up to 36 percent of students who complete an undergraduate degree have made no significant gains in learning along the way, despite actual attendance, completion of academic requirements for a degree, and a great deal of money invested in tuition. This new policy would give them the job credential they needed, without wasting their time or anyone’s money. The 64 percent who are fooled into learning something along the way to their own credentials will also be benefitted, by being put on an equal footing with their peers at last.

It must be admitted that this plan, like all bold plans, will cause some short-term disruption. For instance, universal, automatic distribution of college degrees may well reduce enrollment at traditional colleges. This might cause some concern at first. Faculty members will soon see the bright side, however. They’ll have much more time for research, incoherent rambling, and bitter academic rivalries—and far fewer witnesses to their discomfort with distance learning technologies.

So let’s get those Joe Biden results, without the delay, expense, or hypocrisy. Tell your congresscritters to legislate immediate degrees for all!

Then, order yourself a keg. Our national graduation party is going to be epic!

About Joe Long

Joe Long lives in Cayce, South Carolina. He holds a master's degree in history from Georgia College and State University. His book, Wisdom and Folly: A Book of Devotional Doggerel, was published in 2020. He has a very patient wife, five homeschooled children, and a job.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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