In the first two installments of this meandering essay* I compared higher education to organized religion: the latter is bleeding credibility and relevance following a quite similar path to the former.
Mostly due to two factors:
- Technology: which allows mortals to cut the middleman and become pretty accomplished autodidacts, the same way the printing press allowed laymen & laywomen to read and interpret the Bible sans the filter of priests.
- Cost: at some point or other, both higher education and organized religion hiked their prices to unbearable levels, literally and figuratively.
Let’s put it this way: university as an institution needs to fix a lot of things in its “business model” to remain relevant.
- At times it seems that university top brass and faculty are overly devoted to raising money and being tenured whilst relaxing educational standards in the process.
- For instance, there’s been a quite some disgruntlement around the issue of Chinese students who can barely speak or write English getting extremely deferential treatment from faculty at Ivy League institutions.
- Because they pay retail.
- And don’t get me started about sports.
- March madness.
- College football.
- I know, it is invaluable marketing and advertising.
- It is an American tradition.
- But the price some colleges are paying in the form of highly embarrassing public scandals with its athletes seems a bit too high.
- Plus, lots kids live under intense pressure from their parents to excel at sports with the ulterior motive of getting a scholarship.
- Seems like cheating at solitary to me.
- See, I was a “college professor” once.
- I did stint as an “instructor” at the Miami Ad School for a few semesters (to use their own verbiage).
- My take after the experience: there are driven, committed, hard-working &/or talented kids that will succeed in life whether they go to college or not and there are other who will fail regardless.
- Anecdote: during one of the course I had a few bad apples whom I wanted to get rid of.
- They were a bad influence over the other kids.
- I spoke with the school’s authorities and offered to give them good grades in exchange for their skipping my classes.
- The response: don’t make waves, just ignore them, these kids pay a hefty tuition to be here, we cannot afford to alienate them, let alone kick them out.
- The Miami Ad School has a clever business model though.
- They are a de facto creative boutique.
- They pitch their services to clients big and small: for a quite competitive fee they will put dozens and dozens of students to work on a brief and present dozens & dozens of ideas to clients.
- An advertising mill.
- Mainstream agencies should look over their shoulder.
- The go-to source where they harvest their creative talent is angling to eat their lunch.
- Mind you, I’m not criticizing the Ad School.
- Madison Avenue deserves to be torpedoed on its floatation line.
Coming up next week: have college campuses become daycare for brittle post-adolescents with existential tedium?