Phi Beta Cons

Gail Collins on the Value of College

The New York Times has turned into a good forum for critics of our higher-ed system, with sharp pieces on law schools and Room for Debate features on the supposed need to push more and more kids through college. Last Friday, the paper ran an op-ed piece by Gail Collins in which she notes that while higher-ed costs and concomitant student-debt loads have risen greatly, many students put in little effort to get their B or better averages. She quotes Richard Arum to the effect that in Europe, only students in the Slovak Republic put in less time than do American students.

With such columns running in the NYT, perhaps it’s now officially all right for liberal and progressive types to admit (or at least consider the possibility) that higher education has been undermined by the twin notions that almost everyone ought to go to college and that all students should get pretty good grades so they’ll feel good about themselves.

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