Perils of Higher Education

Ed Dante's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education is probably one of the best pieces I've read in the Chronicle is a long time. It's a fascinating look at the (mostly) secret behind-the-scenes paper writing market.
You would be amazed by the incompetence of your students' writing. I have seen the word "desperate" misspelled every way you can imagine. And these students truly are desperate. They couldn't write a convincing grocery list, yet they are in graduate school. They really need help. They need help learning and, separately, they need help passing their courses. But they aren't getting it.
It's really a scathing critique of the failings of higher education. The college degree (as in, the piece of paper) has become so important that students are willing to go to extreme lengths to get it, even if they aren't capable or qualified of getting it on their own.

(from velkr0 on Flickr)

Last spring when I published my analysis of degree density, a lot of people shot back with the comment that having a degree doesn't make a person smart. I agree. There are plenty of instances in which the type of degree, or the school where it was given, only tells a piece of the story. There's so much more to a person that the degree they hold; but we don't have good tools for measuring intelligence and skill, so we often default to a person's college degree.

Dante's piece is value in that it explains what happens when we overvalue the college degree. We've gotten to the point where people see it as something worth any cost, even if the debt (literally and figuratively) they take on to get it becomes a serious burden once they have it.