Phi Beta Cons

No Pain, No Gain

Intuition and common sense tell us that college should be harder than high school. But a funny thing has happened on our way to the perfectly equal society in which everybody has a college degree. Many college classes have been dumbed down in order to make sure passing them isn’t too much of a challenge. At the same time, school districts have been forced to create more and more AP classes and magnet schools, largely because the better students want to be challenged.

In a piece for the Pope Center, one UNC–Chapel Hill rising sophomore tells how his high-school teachers were right when they said he would get a rude awakening when he went to college for the first time. Only, it wasn’t quite the same lesson they said he would get. 

His sort of “upside-down” academic experience might be a major reason why many recent studies, such as Arum and Roksa’s Academically Adrift, suggest that many students gain little or no intellectual added value in college.


Most Popular


Jussie Smollett Jokes Declared Off-Limits

The Jussie Smollett story has been declared not fit for jokes. "It's a straight-up tragedy," declares the co-creator of a Comedy Central show, South Side, set in Chicago. Bashir Salahuddin, a former Jimmy Fallon writer, says “The whole situation is unfortunate. Particularly for the city, there’s bigger ... Read More

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place ... Read More
PC Culture

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of ... Read More
Film & TV

The Movies Take On Limbaugh, Levin, et al.

Oh, good, here’s the lefty British comic Steve Coogan to give us his take on American right-wing talk radio. Let’s all settle in for some deep insights. The comedy-drama is dismally titled Hot Air. No, seriously. That’s what they came up with. Coogan’s Lionel Macomb is introduced to us via his ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Ignorant Comments on Israel

Making the click-through worthwhile: figuring out what President Trump meant when he said Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”; examining the data on how American Jews actually feel about Israel; and why Democrats will always find a way or a reason to avert ... Read More