College and Class Identity
By Arnold Kling
College is an intense incubator where smart people meet other smart people. The large number of leisure activities and the close quarters in which people live facilitate the formation of friendships and romantic relationships, while the exclusiveness of college makes sure that the people you’re meeting are pre-screened to be the type of people with whom you are most likely to click. In the U.S., the “college experience” includes parties, trips, clubs, athletic events, religious fellowships, communal drug use, study groups, endless late-night conversations…
The friendships and (especially) romantic relationships people form in college are a great motivator. That is an incredible boost to human capital.
I would have changed the punch line slightly. I would replace the word “motivator” with “class identity solidifier.” On my reading, the purpose of college is to ensure that the student self-identifies as a member of the educated elite. One must have the “right” tastes, ideology, etc.
Pointer from Tyler Cowen.