Phi Beta Cons

Every School is a Party School

George, thanks for pointing us to the Wall Street Journal review of Craig Brandon’s, The Five-Year Party. With increasing evidence that students now study dramatically less than they did 40 years ago (only 14 hours a week versus 24 hours in 1961), it seems that virtually every school is a party school. One doesn’t have to binge drink to party one’s four (or five, or six) years away. You can just as easily do it gaming, Facebooking, shopping, or doing anything else fun . . . anything, it seems, but actual academic work. Perhaps the massive tuition payments (and all that debt) really do simply buy a degree. 

Two quick additional observations: First, given the unbelievably lax academic environment (my father, a math professor for more than 40 years, calls it the “breathe-in, breathe-out degree” — stay alive, pay tuition, and you graduate), I sometimes have to stifle a laugh when administrators and professors cite their “high standards” as a justification for taking draconian action against conservative students. Second, if a student can in fact achieve high grades with minimal effort, is it any wonder that graduates from that system too often face a tough job market with something less than a can-do attitude? 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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