System Failure: What David Brooks Doesn’t Get About Meritocracy — And Why He Never Will

David Brooks’s latest, this one on the meritocracy, is a good example of how all the right questions and smart anaylsis in the world is not going to make up for a totally wrong premise — and how totally wrong premises are often the result of lazy, ideologically constrained thinking. Here’s the premise: One of the…

What I Wish My Students Knew

There was a really wonderful and moving article in the New York Times the other day about how for poor students, getting to college is only the beginning of the battle. They often fail to thrive at college, and end up leaving early with giant debts. One ex-student discussed in the article dropped out and…

“College is not for everybody”

A caller on NPR’s Talk of the Nation offered a very interesting story about whether a college degree is a sound investment.  Note the reflexive defense from Kathleen Shea Smith, a student counselor who advocates in her earlier comments on the program that “it’s worth the investment” to get that bachelor’s degree: ABRAHAM: Yeah, well,…

Debt and Career Choices

The President wants to keep student loans cheap. Because I believe in higher education with all of my heart and soul, it would seem natural for me to support this proposal. As the parent of a child that starts college in the fall this proposal would assist our goal of giving her a quality education. But it…

On the value of higher education

Here’s James Poulos on higher education, claiming things like: We fixate on higher education as the key to employment because no other institution but college really acculturates Americans into “legitimate” society. Those who do not attend college are second-class citizens in a cultural sense first, and in an economic one only second. Regrettably, the personalities…

The Demand-Driven Prestige Racket

The Washington Monthly’s college rankings issue is an excellent read, and I hope their list of dropout factories generates an appropriate level of heartburn for crummy administrators (their list of top community colleges is another great idea). One of their articles takes on the “prestige racket,” a series of second tier colleges and universities that…

Padding Your Resume

Sometimes, I think I missed my true calling as a fabulist. TNR posts the hilariously overwrought resume of Adam Wheeler, a guy who literally conned his way into Harvard (and is apparently fluent in Classical Armenian and Old Persian). This brings to mind the tale of Aleksey Vayner, another Ivy League student with an over-active…