America will Die for the College Experience

Great article in the Atlantic about the value of college. In it, the author makes the case that many people don’t value college for education as much as the “college experience“. He claims, and I agree, that we’ve built a large part of our society around the experience of college, but precious little around the education it provides. It’s so ingrained that we’ve knowingly put lives at risk by repopulating campuses around the country, with the motto “Gotta keep those keggers going”.

John Warner, a higher-ed critic, argues that colleges are under threat because “they are not oriented around the mission of teaching and learning, but instead exist to recruit students, enroll students, collect tuition, and hold class.”

I don’t think this is a criticism of everyone involved in traditional brick-and-mortar colleges, any more than I’d criticize a house cat for catching a bird. They are not evil; they just don’t understand the harm they are doing.

I do think some good will come from the pandemic. Many students, professors, administrators, and parents, will come to realize that there are other, sometimes better ways of learning than what we invented in the 11th century. But not before we kill a few thousand people.