In general, if a manufacturer produces a product for a dollar, by the time it reaches the retail shelf to be priced at ten dollars, there have been numerous customary markups in cost to account for all processes and services required to get the product there. Additionally, there is an accounting of what the retailer believes regarding the exclusivity of the product and the market demand for the product. As such, if the retailer believes that it can get ten dollars per product unit, then it will do its best to acquire the product as close to the one dollar production cost, to increase the margin (net profit after sale).
Like any other product, the employer wants to pay as little as possible for you and your services. The most capable and productive of you will contribute to, fully produce or sell far more value than you cost your employer annually.
While the aristocracy and some of the wealthy may look upon a college/university education as a globally-oriented, social finishing experience for the young adults in their families, the existing and developing bourgeois (middle class) should recognize college as the next step toward their personal success in the market. Broad, non-focused development of diverse cultural experiences, knowledge and related soft skills is of limited market value and cannot be justified in a ROI consideration. The implication is not that we should forego teaching liberal arts. However, much of higher education has drifted so far from marketable to the corporate world that it is almost criminal to suggest to a student that s/he should major in such subjects, much less pay for the “opportunity”.
The higher education industry claims that as a result of their education and training you will be paid by industry. But, as schools focus more on expanding their liberal arts, fine arts, entertainment (including sports) departments and to a lesser degree upon that which supports and drives markets, the more graduates finish college with lesser marketable knowledge and skills. Most colleges are not accountable for producing job-specific, job-accessing graduates from each student enrolled. Some have even reduced career to the equivalents of in-house, electronic job boards. Further compromising the process, industry, as the primary beneficiary of well-educated pools of candidates, are not paying for your training as it did at the onset of the American Industrial Revolution.
If colleges and universities wish to promote very broad course catalogs and higher education experiences, maybe they should be convincing all of industry that they are providing the training/education their prospective employees need. Maybe they should even be exacting payment from corporate America for education/training services rendered, cooperative placement, and to improve the industry-education system relationship relevancy.