College is a signal

Who is IOZ?

Colleges and universities are basically credential fabricators that provide an indicator of class status for a fee. The fundamental nature of the relationship between the student and the “institution of higher learning” isn’t pedagogical; it’s transactional.

I’m not ready to accept that the teaching and learning that goes on in American institutions of higher learning isn’t of value. Nevertheless, this idea seems to be gathering momentum in an environment where credentials are considered sufficient conditions for qualification, particularly as regards license-securing in trades such as teaching.

Don’t people pretty much get that the University of Phoenix is a joke school? I guess not, since its current enrollment is close to a half-million people.

On the other hand, Bryan Caplan: “Which would do more for your career: A Princeton education, but no diploma, or a Princeton diploma, but no education?” That’s a tough question to answer, and while I’m tempted to say the credential is worth more than the education, I’m saying that from having gotten a college education (albeit not from a school as reputable as Princeton). A Princeton credential and no college education at all? That seems a tough pose to strike and hold.

Half Sigma suggests a compromise:

I would recommend that young people considering engineering as a major go to an Ivy League school and not an engineering school. The engineering majors at the Ivies are the easiest to get accepted to, but they carry a lot more prestige with non-engineering people than a degree from Harvey Mudd.

Related: Adam Wheeler

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