Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why you must try harder in college

This interesting graphic, which most of us in the higher education "industry" will recognize as familiar, came accompanied by the headline "Why College isn't for Everyone -- in a Single Chart."

For starters, Fortune (the authors, or at least purveyors), it's a graph, not a chart. (If you think there isn't a difference, then you must have flunked statistics.)

For seconds, why doesn't it instead mean "Why You Must Try Harder in College"?

It's true that for-profitry and other "money-lending" has crept into the "temple" of higher education in recent decades, and so non-egalitarians like the authors and readers of Fortune might easily draw such conclusions. And I would certainly agree -- albeit from the idealistic, not the business viewpoint -- that the holiness of said temple has been sorely compromised as a result.

But we don't need Jesus to sort this right away, thank you, even though the image of him rampaging through the plush corporate offices of Pheonix and their ilk is, I confess, attractive.

For even if money-lending has crept in, it certainly hasn't reduced the competition function of college. If society has any hopes of edging back towards the stalwart Fabian meritocracy my Roundhead forefathers (and I) expected would one day develop, then it has to have a strong system of competition based on cleverness.

And clearly it still does, at least in part.

My evidence? The same ruddy "chart", thank you.

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