“Crazy U”

More from Andrew Ferguson’s: Crazy U. Here are another two choice bits:

We suffer from a built-in confusion of means and ends. We want college (the means) to produce results (the ends) that it wasn’t built for. With its ample time for leisure, its relatively light workload, its often leafy setting, its discursive methods of instruction, its vast, comprehensive libraries, college was designed for contemplation, for the slow, steady nurturing of the spirit. It wasn’t designed to do what most Americans want it to do: set their kids up to get a good job. If the end we seek is the acquisition of marketable skills, there are much speedier means of doing this than a four-year education in the liberal arts. . . .

The college mania won’t subside anytime soon. Too many people, too many institutions and businesses, have an interest, financial and ideological, in keeping it going. This was one of my many discoveries. Though not at all original to me, I took to dropping these mini-revelations at dinner parties, cocktail parties, school sporting events, my office, wherever parents with high school kids gathered. Facing the same trackless future my wife and I did, they scooped up the nuggets like squirrel scurrying for acorns before winter set in, bringing them home to build cozy little nests of worry.

And here’s a gem prompted by an information session at Harvard:

We want all of you to apply, she [assistant dean of admissions] seemed to be saying.Of course, we won’t let any of you in, but our commitment to diversity runs so deep that we want to offer as many of you as possible the opportunity to think you have a chance.

Cross-posted from Newmark’s Door.

Craig Newmark

Associate Professor of Economics, North Carolina State Univ.

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