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[Fwd: Education as a Commodity]

Hannah Dvorak-Carbone hdvorak at cns.caltech.edu
Tue Nov 18 13:58:33 EST 1997

In article <64s77v$b8r at gap.cco.caltech.edu>, ravena at cco.caltech.edu says...
>In article <34712132.84C78D67 at umbsky.cc.umb.edu>,
>Lelia C. Orrell <orrell at umbsky.cc.umb.edu> wrote:
>>(5) Grade inflation.  As long as top schools fail to fail failures and
>>kick them out, students will continue to squeek by, earn degrees, and get
>>jobs based upon name recognition for the institutions they attend.
>It's not clear to me that kicking them out, such that they don't get a
>degree or a job, is necessarily a panacea.

A consequence (or perhaps just a correlate) of grade inflation is
degree deflation.  In the past, all you needed for your average,
random entry level job was a high school diploma.  Now, you're pretty
much stuck if you don't have a bachelor's degree.  So, a lot of people
are just going through the motions for an extra four years to have a hope
at a job.  If somehow we could get back to a situation where students
graduated from high school ready for the real world, then maybe only
those who really wanted to learn would go to college.

>>In some respects, a college education has become a commodity.  Gone are
>>the days when only the few, the white, and the rich could get into
>>college: and good ridance to those days.  Sure, it costs a lot to go to
>>many colleges and universities today, but money is not the bottleneck it
>>once was for most middle class parents and students. 
>This strikes me as also way too glib.  You must not know the middle
>class parents and students I know.  Private school education is going to
>cost $100,000 for four years very soon, if it doesn't already.  My
>parents' house didn't cost that much.

Again, if a high school education actually delivered what it should
(i.e. literate, numerate young adults capable of rational, critical
thought), not everybody would have to go to college.  And if fewer 
people went, public universities (which do not cost $100,000 for four 
years) would be less crowded and could probably deliver a better 
education to those who did go.

- Hannah

Hannah Dvorak-Carbone
Division of Biology 216-76
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125

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