The Future of Academia: A Tougher Place for Generic Ph.D.s & A Candy Store for Creative Entrepreneurs
by John Rubino
To understand how close many U.S. universities are to catastrophic failure, let’s start with the story of Robert (not his real name, but all the rest is true).
He’s 19, a freshman at a state university, a smart kid with eclectic interests but no sense of what he wants to be when he grows up. His favorite class, which he had to battle to get into, is an upper-level creative writing seminar taught by a successful author in which six students, all serious about the subject, submit original work and critique it each week. He’s also taking “computer science as a career” taught by a disgruntled professor who shows lots of videos while never missing a chance to tell the class how little he cares about the subject, and weight lifting, which operates on the honor system; Robert promises to lift weights and the school promises to give him an A.
What’s notable about this menu is that the two fluff courses cost the same as the much more serious and harder-to-duplicate creative writing seminar. Robert’s parents, appalled by the difference between his tuition bills and theirs of two decades ago, are aware of the varying
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