By Victor Davis Hanson, Daily Signal
In a famous exchange in the “The Sun Also Rises,” Ernest Hemingway wrote: “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.”
“Gradually” and “suddenly” applies to higher education’s implosion.
During the 1990s “culture wars” universities were warned that their chronic tuition hikes above the rate of inflation were unsustainable.
Their growing manipulation of blanket federal student loan guarantees, and part-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants always was suicidal.
Left-wing indoctrination, administrative bloat, obsessions with racial preferences, arcane, jargon-filled research, and campus-wide intolerance of diverse thought short-changed students, further alienated the public—and often enraged alumni.
Over the last 30 years, enrollments in the humanities and history crashed. So did tenure-track faculty positions. Some $1.7 trillion in federally backed student loans have only greenlighted inflated tuition—and masked the contagion of political indoctrination and watered-down courses.
But “gradually” imploding has now become “suddenly.” Zoom courses, a declining pool of students, and soaring costs all prompt the public to question the college experience altogether.
Nationwide undergraduate enrollment has dropped by more than 650,000 students in a single year—or over 4% alone from spring 2021 to 2022, and some 14% in the last decade. Yet the U.S. population still increases by about 2 million people a year.
Men account for about 71% of the current shortfall of students. Women number almost 60% of all college students—an all-time high.
Monotonous professors hector students about “toxic masculinity,” as “gender” studies proliferate. If the plan was to drive males off campus, universities have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.
The number of history majors has collapsed by 50% in just the last 20 years. Tenured history positions have declined by one-third to half at major state universities.
In the last decade alone, English majors across the nation’s universities have fallen by a third.