In the 1960’s, students arranged for campus “sit-ins” to support civil rights.

Fast forward to the new millenium: Student loan debt level is even higher than that for credit cards, and Ivy League education seems to be both trivial and needlessly pricey.

Red Alert Politics writer describes a solution offered by a noted libertarian economist for those who want an elite college education without the elite price, which involves a new kind of  “sit-in”!

Imagine if education was not a government-funded endeavor and a college degree was not required for obtaining a high-paying job.

Economist Bryan Caplan, a professor at George Mason University, argued at the International Students for Liberty conference this weekend that students would be better off taking a myriad of classes that interest them rather than required coursework needed to obtain a degree.

He said most students of the traditional higher education system will be unprepared for the “real world” because school curriculum teaches no useful job skills, only dead languages like Latin. He suggested students who are committed to learning should skip the cost of college entirely and just sit in on classes that interest them.

“If you want to simply learn, simply start attending college. Colleges do not card,” Caplan said. “If you want to go to Princeton, just go to Princeton. Drive there, get an apartment, start attending classes. As long as you look like a student, professors won’t even wonder what’s going on.”

An individual who attended classes that interested them — but didn’t get a degree — could have all the skills to perform a “post-graduate” job, most likely more successfully than someone who enrolled and paid, because that person wanted to learn and remembered the subject matter after the final exam. Yet, without that diploma from an Ivy League or any college, an employer would blacklist that person simply for not having a piece of paper.

“Why would employers pay a large premium to people who study subjects that are unrelated to their work?” Caplan asked. “Why do employers so strongly prefer people with higher levels of education if most of what they study in school is not actually going to be used on the job?”

…While Caplan’s theory may sound insane at first glance, the idea of eliminating educational programs – and higher educational programs in particular – that many Americans don’t need is one that is gaining traction among many conservatives and libertarians. Given today’s weak job market and the national youth unemployment rate, Caplan’s idea may not be so crazy after all.