Phi Beta Cons

Even the Mainstream Media is Getting It

In a recent Time piece, Michael Ellsberg argues that higher education’s long-held monopoly on credibility is ending. He writes, “While learning has always been available around us, inexpensively, free (or even paid on the job), until recently, sources of credibility have been highly centralized, and highly expensive. There was basically only one source: higher education. The more elite, the better.”

That monopoly on providing evidence of learning is one of the main ingredients in our great overselling of higher education. (I’d say that the two other main ingredients are government money and the political babble that college is almost always a good “investment” for both the individual and the country.) Ellsberg, who wrote a book on successful people who didn’t graduate from college, says that the Internet is putting an end to the credibility monopoly. “You can seek out credibility in a multitude of ways, many of which don’t involve oppressive mountains of student debt or regurgitated facts in lecture-hall quizzes.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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