I have noticed two trends in higher education that may be correlated.
The first trend has to do with the exorbitant cost of higher education which has been generally rising at a much higher rate than inflation, and has been for decades.
The trend I am interested in, however, is a by-product of this larger trend. Because the cost of higher education, particularly of an advanced degree, has been rising so quickly it has resulted long ago in the phenomenon that individuals who got advanced degrees in certain subjects, like the humanities, being incapable of getting a job upon graduation that would allow them to pay back their student loans. The problem became so severe that many graduate schools did something about it.
About fifteen to twenty years ago, most graduate schools moved to the model of not accepting any student unless they could fully fund them. This seemed to be the socially responsible thing to do. It is, on a certain level. There are two problems with it, however.
The first problem is that a number of students are denied the opportunity to get an education that might otherwise benefit them because the graduate schools will only admit students it can fully fund. These students cannot reach their full potential because access to the education is denied them.
Unfortunately, not all graduate schools are wise in their selection of graduate students. For example, during the time that I was a graduate student at Yale, every student selected to receive the top scholarship failed to finish their graduate program. There were all sorts of reasons given for the problem and probably a different reason could be given for each student. I mention it merely to point out that the track record of selecting graduate students to receive money at that particular school at that particular time was not great.
The second trend I am interested in is the much discussed sense of entitlement supposedly found among millennials. I do not think this is necessarily accurate because I do not think it is necessarily a generational thing. I know a number of individuals from earlier generations (including early boomers) that also manifest a sense of entitlement disproportionate to their accomplishments. Whether the sense of entitlement is increasing or not, those who have the misfortune of working with those who are entitled generally agree that having a sense of entitlement is not a good thing.
I do not have data at the moment to support a correlation, but it seems to me that the first trend directly feeds into the second trend. That is, fully funding graduate students without their having to work for it might promote a sense of entitlement in them. It is a hypothesis that at least can be tested.
With that in mind, some time ago, I encountered a little essay about the sacrifices that some people still make to get an education. Having made some sacrifices for my education I appreciate stories like this of the sacrifices made. We need more of them.