Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On the Value of the Bachelor of Arts Degree

The bachelor of arts degree as it has evolved over the last half-century has become the work of the devil. It is now a substantively meaningless piece of paper—genuinely meaningless, if you don’t know where the degree was obtained and what courses were taken. It is expensive, too, as documented by the College Board: Public four-year colleges average about $7,000 per year in tuition, not including transportation, housing, and food. Tuition at the average private four-year college is more than $27,000 per year. And yet the B.A. has become the minimum requirement for getting a job interview for millions of jobs, a cost-free way for employers to screen for a certain amount of IQ and perseverance. Employers seldom even bother to check grades or courses, being able to tell enough about a graduate just by knowing the institution that he or she got into as an 18-year-old.

- Charles Murray, "Do We Need the Department of Education?" in the January 2012 issue of Imprimus.

I was on the board of Trinity College (Deerfield, IL) when it adopted an "accelerated degree 'completion' program," lately approved by the education bureaucracies.  What a windfall for that college and other struggling liberal arts institutions.  I didn't quite get how a night class or two a week - and maybe a Saturday - for someone who had a full-time job and a family could, in about a year, equal the junior and senior years at Stanford, Duke, or Davidson College, or even at Trinity itself.  Still don't.

1 comment:

Sean Meade said...

you were on the board of Trinity? wow! why?