Friday, May 30, 2008

A Fair Description of the modern American University

A Fair Description of the modern American University


How do we get American students out of the basement of the ivory tower?

You remember the recent Atlantic magazine article, In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, whose author, an English professor at a university of last resort, argues that we’ve got to stop admitting to college people who simply cannot make it in that setting, who will not graduate, who will flunk and flunk again required courses like English composition.

UD commented on the article here.

The problem with deciding that such people — people who’ve read very few books, who can’t write a basic essay, who are probably functionally illiterate — shouldn’t waste their time, money, and dignity at a university, is that a college degree makes an enormous difference in terms of your employability, and in terms of the type of job and level of salary you can expect. We all seem to agree that, in most cases, you’ll lead a much better work life if you’ve graduated from college.

One solution to this problem has been the establishment of bogus colleges and universities which, after four years of nothingness, hand you a diploma. One hears stories of professors dismissed from their positions at places like these because they tried to give low grades to students. Live the pretense.

This is an expensive ritual, and eventually the government, subsidizing a good deal of it, is going to get interested in testing to see whether students at these schools learn anything. When it becomes clear that many don’t, funds may be withdrawn..