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When College Goes Club Med
Students once led monk-like lives. Now they party at taxpayers' expense.
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I belong to a generation that still values what is now indiscriminately referred to as “higher education.” What that once meant was going to a four-year college, if one’s high-school grades showed promise, and in return for about $700 each semester spending the next four years immersed in books. Back then we studied traditional disciplines, such as math, languages, and those liberal arts that still defined our Western civilization. If a bright student wanted to branch out to other cultures and languages, like Chinese or Japanese, he or she was encouraged to do so. Unlike some colleges nowadays, we most certainly did not have “hands-on learning.” The prevalent view was that if students didn’t want to read books, they shouldn’t be in college.

Not insignificantly, we lived like medieval monks. We had next to no control about what was served in the dining room; and watching TV in the evening was only possible if one shared this amenity with other adolescents in some far-off corner of the campus. We were in college strictly to learn, with few learning devices. We were definitely not there to hang out, play video games in our dorm rooms, or choose from multiple culinary options in an eating area that looked like the circular dining room in the Hotel Hershey.

I used to get dirty looks toward the end of my teaching career when I asked students in Western Civilization courses what books they had read. These students didn’t open books, perhaps on principle. I’ve no idea why they’re in college, except to meet significant others and to enjoy leisure time at the expense of their parents or of American taxpayers. As I like to point out, such college residents are students in the same sense I would be a player in the national hockey league, if I signed up in a program that allowed me to imagine I was something I was not. Of course, since these kids, or their enablers, are paying at least one hundred times more than I did for my education, they get their illusions and sybaritic tastes indulged.

Lest I forget, let me mention that the number of administrators I recall seeing at Yale University in the mid-1960s was a fraction of the army of paper-pushers that is there now. I suspect these paper-pushers are now earning salaries that correspond to the tuition that Yale requires from each undergraduate, which is $58,000 a year. Although this money is icing on the cake, since most Ivy League and at least some state universities could survive from their endowments, Yale and schools of similar caliber do provide enormous professional advantages to their graduates. I’m not sure what comparable advantages accrue to those who attend considerably less prestigious institutions of learning and are paying almost as much for the experience.

ORDER IT NOW

This excursion down memory lane brings me to my final point, the complaint that is coming from the Pennsylvania university system that Governor Corbett is not giving “educators” enough dough. Originally Corbett tried to withdraw between 20 and 30 percent of their state funding but then chickened out. If were in his place, I would have urged PSU to dump as many administrators as it could. Do we really need officials to represent “diversity” or other real or alleged social problems on more than 20 campuses across the state? And the salary of over $500,000 a year that is going to the current president of PSU should be causing us to blush in shame, even if that is only half as much as his predecessor earned. Salary reduction for college administrators is dictated by decency as well as thrift. If these bureaucrats wish to live like corporate executives, then they should find jobs into the private sector. At least they won’t be taking my money.

It would also be a good idea if these state behemoths started to budget a bit more reasonably. Do the customers really need so many leisure activities, exercise rooms, computer and video paraphernalia in order to attend a relatively inexpensive state school? If state universities are interested in maximizing their competitive advantages, then they should offer fewer frills and charge less. Americans would do well to look at European universities to see how much less luxuriously students are treated there. Exchange students I’ve met are astonished at how lavishly our college students live. And having spent time on foreign campuses, I know these visitors are right. American colleges are becoming resorts that offer what are increasingly devalued degrees, often in majors that should not even exist. And these resorts are top-heavy. Like our costly public schools, colleges and universities are smothered in administration. Corbett should be raising these issues, as he listens to the complaints coming from “higher education.”

Paul Gottfried is the author, most recently, of Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America: A Critical Appraisal.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Academia 
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  1. Scott says:

    Don’t know how old you are and what year you graduated but I’m 58 and graduated from a state university in ’75 and it wasn’t a monastic environment then either. In fact, the only difference between then and now (this year my son graduated from a state university) is that there is a whole lot more technology now and kids have a lot more stuff. Most of the increase in cost comes out of the parent’s pocket not the taxpayers. I am getting tired of the youth bashing theme that seems to be going around. If you want to criticize anybody, criticize the generation before them.

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Universities now compete to offer the best country club like environment. This is because of cheap loan money given to expand the number of students who go to college. With that expansion, the academic level of the average student has dropped. My university had the gaul to ask faculty to serve breakfast to student during finals week because ” surveys show faculty involvement in student’s lives insures success.” At the same time faculty involvement is not rewarded when it comes to academic ventures and ratings agencies count the number of publications. Universities rely on more part time faculty than ever as they reduce full time faculty and academic budgets.

  3. I graduated in 75 as well, but from a German university, and while our life was not monastic, the non-monastic benefits were not part of the curriculum and were off-campus. What I observe today with my kids in state university in the US, is a university administration, which inserts itself in matters of pure personal nature (like sex, gender, diversity), which will not enable our offspring to earn a living (at least not one we want them to). And while a large portion is paid for by “student loans”, we all will pay for it ultimately, when the taxpayer has to pick up the bill for those loans, because the graduate fails to make a living with those subjects he learned while at the university. But by that time the ones that collected a fat salary for teaching that useless crap, have retired and can’t be sued for selling what constitutes a useless good.

  4. cka2nd says:

    Mr. Gottfried might have noted that while the educational bureaucracy has been growing, the size of the full-time faculty has been shrinking, faculty and student participation in governance greatly diminished, state support for public colleges and universities cut, and educators urged to treat students as customers and education as a commercial product and tool for economic development.

  5. cka2nd says:

    Hollywood may have been stretching the matter in all of those films about college students staring Harold Lloyd, Van Johnson, June Allyson and Co., but that sure didn’t look like monastic living to me.

    There have always been gut courses, party schools and students whose main purpose was to snag a wife or husband or blow off some steam before entering the family business. The difference is that parents and youth have been sold a bill of goods, that a college education is a necessity, which is a lot easier to claim when manufacturing jobs have been off-shored or automated out of existence and unions busted so that most of the remaining blue and pink collar jobs, and those providing care and support, don’t pay enough to support a family.

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    This magazine sometimes slips into “when I was your age” kind of talk but Gottfried really doesn’t add any other element to this one.

  7. cka2nd says:

    And only the hyper-libertarians who think everyone should be an entrepreneur and independent contractor (including assembly line workers) can celebrate the fact that more than one in five undergraduates is majoring in business, a glorified trade degree.

  8. I would not deny that faculty are getting less of the gravy from the gravy train than bureaucrats, but regular faculty, as opposed to minimally paid adjuncts, have not made out badly in the distribution of funds. In state universities in Pennsylvania the regular faculty are paid considerably more, particularly at the upper level, than their counterparts in most private institutions.Moreover, faculty have gladly accepted the creation of deanships, which typically have been filled from their ranks. Administrative posts going to feminists and advocates of diversity are hugely popular among faculty for ideological reasons and for providing a path toward improving their job prospects. With due respect to the self-styled moralist, I find nothing wrong about contrasting my generation’s college experience to the club med pleasures of the current campus population.

  9. cka2nd says:

    “I find nothing wrong about contrasting my generation’s college experience to the club med pleasures of the current campus population.”

    My objection is that I think you are generalizing your personal experience onto your generation’s college experience and cherry-picking the most egregious examples of current college life to paint a picture that many students would find unrecognizable given the tiny, cramped quarters they live in and the glorified fast food offered in their meal plans.

  10. As a professor of philosophy at a small, Christian liberal arts university in Canada, I can testify to the accuracy of Paul’s observations. They essentially match up with my own impressions of campus life today. The study of languages has been declining precipitously at my school for the past decade, despite the once obvious need for evangelical Christians to learn the original languages in which the stories and teachings of the Bible were first revealed. Many of my students are far more interested in mastering the latest technical gizmos than reading Scripture even in translation. In their partial defence, students today have been encouraged for most of their lives to embrace either Stalinist political correctness (sorry, “diversity training”) or mindless consumerism, or some toxic mix of both poisons. Why would they spend their leisure time reading the Great Works of philosophy and literature in this environment? University administrators who are obsessed with following the latest “intellectual” fashions wouldn’t want it any other way.

  11. “I’ve no idea why they’re in college, except to meet significant others and to enjoy leisure time at the expense of their parents or of American taxpayers. ”

    You don’t know? Why it’s to get a job of course! Most jobs require you to have a degree of some sort (even if what you learn doesn’t correspond to the degree) so that’s why you have to have some sort of higher education. Otherwise you’re competing with Jose for the janitor job at city hall and he’s willing to work for almost nothing.

    So if you want the ranch house and the flat screen TV and F150, then it’s to college with you. And look! the Feds are here to help you get to college by giving you a loan you just pay back with all the money you make from your job. And no there are no factories you can work which will pay you $20 an hour. So you cannot just “skip” college.

    To give everyone a math lesson for today: More kids in college to get the middle class job equals more administrators to oversee them which means more expense which means more loan money which leads to spending on facilities to attract kids which leads to more debaucherous behavior with so many young adults in one space. Any questions?

  12. We were no monks. I finished college in 71 and grad school in 74 and there was nothing monastic about us.

    I think some jealousy is showing.

  13. rr says:

    University students weren’t all exactly monastic in the Middle Ages either. If you read about university life in the Middle Ages, there are plenty of reports, or rather complaints, about students who drank too much, got in fights, got involved with women, etc. Moreover, going to the university to get a degree in order to enter a lucrative career isn’t new either. Martin Luther’s father sent him to the university so that he could obtain a law degree and make a lot of money. Luther of course rebelled and became a monk.

  14. I graduated from college in 1963. The amenities that college students routinely enjoy today, multiple high-definition TVs, the right to spend nights in the company of significant others in dorm rooms, gourmet dining, multiple exercise rooms, would have been unimaginable in 1963. In fact this level of luxury and self-indulgence did not exist, if memory serves, until fairly recently. The facts that students drank and jollified in Luther’s Germany is totally irrelevant. Adolescents have always done such things. What distinguishes the American present is shameless way we have turned “universities” into club med facilities and our exceedingly low expectations that ‘the kids” will do any serious study during their four-year vacation at an academic resort.I am bitter about this in the same way that I am disgusted by the bloated public sector in the US, which was far less bloated in 1963 than it is today. I see no reason that comparisons should be disallowed for senior citizens, who may accurately recall the way things used to be.

  15. I agree with Sean 100%. While there are pitifully few exceptions, the universal ticket into a white collar middle to upper middle class existence is a bachelor’s degree. And your chances are better if you graduate from a decent school with connections to top businesses.

    While my alma mater reminds me more of Vail than a monastery, I don’t feel that such an environment has a negative impact on learning. If the opposite were the case, then the graduates of Camp Lejeune would be leaders in academia.

    Above average architecture, accommodations, and activities are often necessary to attract quality students AND faculty who often have their pick of institutions to reside. I have personally heard from administrators at my alma mater that new and gorgeous faculty offices are often necessary to persuade prominent professors from accepting offers at the Ivies.

  16. Some truth here, but reminds me of the Monty Python routine, “When I was a lad, we lived in the bottom of a lake, and all we had to eat was stones.”

    I’m a Gottfried fan, but this wasn’t one of his best.

  17. Paul notes that absurdity, though, of state schools trying to compete with the most prestigious private ones on this field. The Ivies have the endowments to handle their quality of life needs. But do schools that aren’t competing for the brightest students — schools that for many young people are the only game in town — need to pamper them? Sean’s right that there are incentives for them to do so, but PG is right that it’s crazy to go along with that tide.

  18. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The excesses are symptomatic of an education bubble fueled by government programs that, intended to make college affordable, end up having the opposite effect: http://libertymcg.com/2012/01/31/obama-remedy-to-rising-tuition-more-of-whats-driving-it/

  19. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Monastic life is hardly a goal we should strive for as an institutional rule. In any case, the amenities present at many colleges is a result of the free-market system and nothing more. When colleges compete for student dollars against other colleges, they need selling points. The ammunition comes in the form of new dormitories, attractive meal options, and various extracurricular activities. The administrative arms-race can be tied to this same competitive situation. Schools look for creative ways to sell themselves, and academics just don’t cut it on the open market.

    Look, I’m all for a pin popping the American university party-college balloon, but we shouldn’t be surprised that colleges behave as entrepreneurs under a free-market system. They want the money being waved about by students.

  20. JD Salyer says: • Website

    Exquisitely on-target commentary by Gottfried. I suspect those who criticize him don’t get what he’s driving at. It’s been common for a while to complain about university students being only in it for the job and not valuing liberal education, etc. etc., but PG hints that it is actually worse than that.

    The type of student PG is commenting about is not the kid who would like to go to work but is forced by the system to get an undergraduate degree. That sort of student is not the problem: He might not understand or appreciate liberal education, but he does typically respect authority, and if you tell him he has to do well in English Comp or Intro to Ethics in order to achieve his goals, then he’s game for it. (Or at least if he does get sidetracked by partying and the opposite sex and so on, he hasn’t been so saturated with a sense of entitlement that he’ll blame the professor for his failing a mid-term he never studied for.)

    The type of guy (or gal) PG is commenting about, on the other hand, is the sort who would shudder at the thought of making an honest living from blue-collar work, yet who likewise resents the idea that becoming a member of an elite should demand any substantial intellectual effort or cultivation.

    Certainly I wouldn’t say they’re all like this, but a disturbingly high number of students are too spoiled and lazy to either do real work or think real thoughts. In other words, the modern university is ideally suited for producing administrators, bureaucrats, human resources specialists, and the like.

  21. JD Salyer says: • Website

    In other words, when these kids don’t read King Lear, it is *hardly* because they’d be more interested in working on their cars or learning computer programming or mastering the art of housewifery.

  22. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    I think what JD says is right, the system really pushes kids into college. Charlotte Iserbyt says the “system” doesn’t train for jobs its not going to create. Since the nebulous “they” has moved all the industry out of the country, they’re pushing this “information economy”. It’s a complete snowjob, but it does get more people into student loan debt.

    This reminds me of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio, but instead of turning into donkeys, they’ll be turning into debt-slaves.

  23. mike says:

    I feel obliged to mention to Midwest Retired Professor that “gaul” is always divided into three parts and “gall” is what is possessed by universities asking faculty to serve breakfast.

  24. Dutch says:

    This reminds me of one of the greatest wisdoms I ever read which, interestingly enough, came from Rock Skully, the longtime road manager of the Grateful Dead, speaking about Haight Ashbury during the summer of free love. It was something to the effect of:

    “Every great and true and real thing eventually devolves into some disingenuous spectacle selling tickets to itself. It bummed us out then and it bums us out to this day”

    No more accurate a statement could be made about the college experience…

  25. James says:

    I graduated from undergrad in 2001. I went to a modest state school as I was neither ambitious enough nor lavish enough to spend the huge amount of money to attend the fancy schmancy private school (about 25K which was insanely expensive at the time) up the road. I was one of the weird students that liked to read and hang out in the library (I spent the majority of my time there). 100 and 200 level classes were torture, as I naively thought that everyone going to college would be a scholar and not a braindead moron no more mature or scholarly than most high school freshmen. The kids in my composition class were so dumb that they should have skipped high school and gone directly to lawn care or janitor duty. The college makes out as their money is just as good as mine.

    I got a call from the state school just the other day groveling for money. I told the student on the line that the government has made his loans virtually impossible to discharge even in bankruptcy. He was shocked. I gave him some advice on career paths that might work for his major. He had never thought about it. As someone said recently, this is not going to end well.

  26. All those saying that a college degree is the only pathway to a decent job are living in a fantasy world. I’m 30 years old, most of my peers went the higher education route while I dropped out of high school (in 9th grade) and did something that none of them did, even in college. I read. Voraciously! While they were getting drunk, I was plowing through Adam Smith. While they were smoking joints, I was devouring Rothbard, Drucker, Jung, Erickson, Thoreau, Emerson, Churchill, Confucius, Paine, Krishnamurti, and even Napoleon, Sun Tzu, Von Clausewitz, de Saxe, Miyamoto Musashi, and Fredrick the Great. I’ve studied whatever interested me. Philosophy, history, psychology, management, business, even a little bit of physics, astronomy, and architecture. I haven’t been an employee in almost my entire working experience. You think maybe I’ve suffered because I never got a high school diploma? Think again. As a private contractor I set my own wages and, believe me, those wages are very high. (In my current job I’m making almost 7 times minimum wage but some jobs I do net me thousands of dollars a DAY!) When my clients meet me they immediately recognize my competence and intelligence, regardless of my lack of some phony degree. I’m an owner or part owner in a couple of small businesses on the side as well (something anyone can do if they have a marketable skill, or can identify a market need. I know one guy who makes $5000-$6000 a month selling a natural snoring remedy online. This takes up about 15-20 minutes of his time every day.)

    On the other hand, you have college students graduating into a terrible job market with almost zero work experience. They are saddled with many thousands of dollars in debt and more or less no way of paying it off. Many of my friends are waiting tables, packing groceries, babysitting, and doing part time secretarial work just to make their payments. They’re working so hard trying to make a living that they have no time to actually make any money. One of my best friends will soon graduate with almost $180,000 in debt and no more work experience than that! Starting in her field shell be lucky to get $35k a year unless she goes into even more debt opening up her own office, something which is not realistic in any way.

    What is that piece of paper worth? Many of my college going friends come to ME, a high school dropout, for help with their term papers, study questions, and other assignments! (And I’m always surprised by how dumbed down the assignments are. That is the real joke… )

    Maybe at some point a college education used to mean something. I’m here to tell you that that just isn’t the case anymore. At least, not in the US.

  27. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Personally, I think PA should cut Penn State off and privatize it. Especially given the cost impact of the Sandusky travesty. PSU then should kill every major that can’t support itself and take advantage of new technology. Why have branch campuses with e-learning? Oh yeah, because governement money covers up the true cost.

  28. Professor Gottfried, you and I used to exchange missives in the Nineties (( recall my :Founders’ America” essays. My primary focus was (is) to prompt rational-conservative MOVERS and SHAKERS to reveal/expose ROOT CAUSES of the West’s steep moral/cultural/financial decline. I urge you to study Dr. Oakley’s groundbreaking book, “Evil Genes__Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Bofriend.” And recall my 1987 essay, “The Donahue Syndrome,” which explains the underlying psychology of politics. Contact me: [email protected] .

  29. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    To Self-Educated Private-Contracting Libertarian: If this country had a lot more people like you I’d have a lot more hope for my country.

  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I think the author was using the adjective “monastic” not in the literal sense but in a figurative sense comparatively speaking. So, while all of us who were in college in the 70’s certainly didn’t THINK we were living a monastic life in those days, if we were enrolled in college today, our collective heads could be spinning. Based on some of the anecdotes my children come home with, I must agree with the author.

    My children have struggled to pay their own way at state schools and I have constantly told them that when they graduate debt free, they will be ahead of everyone even if they take 8 years to earn that degree. My daughter who is currently a junior at a state school in California, recently told me that the official advice for college graduates with high debt loads is just don’t pay. Don’t start paying and don’t acknowledge the debt. The consensus being that eventually the Federal Government will have to forgive the debt or make the debts dischargable somehow and then everyone will be able to escape the payments for their degrees that my children were forced to work and pay for. In that case, I told her, your work resume will be self explanatory and you will still have a better chance at the higher paying jobs because of your history of continued employment since age 15. She is not consoled and I can’t help feel a little sorry for those like my children who are forced to attend the party during the day and be the poor student who lives at home and works and has bills to pay like a sucker, while the vast majority are on a free ride that they have no intention of paying for. I can only pray that my children will have the integrity to know that it is ALWAYS better to pay for what you have than steal it from someone else when they are constantly subjected to the opposite message during their “education” by the majority of their classmates. Further, I can only wonder what these free ride graduates expect other people to provide for them after they have “graduated”? High paying jobs, of course, homes, cars, vacations? Where will it end and who will pay for the rest of the goodies these moochers feel they “need”? Oh, yeah, my kids and their kids, of course.

  31. sam says:

    At Vassar we were trapped in the woods. Alone with little to do except be worked to death by barbaric teachers with few student rights. Even the spoiled dumb rich kids learned a lot there. I hated it at the time and I hated how dumb everyone seemed. Later on I realized that actually this group of dumb idiots were in fact the 1%, the cream of the crop, who went on to be the lawyers and doctors and professors of the next generation. There are still real colleges with real standards. Many of the Ivies are just “A” factories for rich kids. But the elite liberal arts colleges will continue to offer real educations to those who muster up the right stuff. Like me, your lives and brains will be forever changed, if only through your hatred of the place.

  32. sam says:

    The top professor salaries at UCSD are something like 750,000, 650,000 and 620,000 a year. PROVOSTS and seniore mukity muck make nearly a million a year.

  33. Fred says:

    I graduated in Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967. Senior year we took Thermodynamics. The professor was in his ’60’s, had written textbooks, and was world famous as a consultant to insurance companies. He was hired to reconstruct auto accidents on an energy basis. He was also a marvelous teacher and wonderful human being.
    In the early ’70’s the Milwaukee Journal ran an “expose” on university salaries. The cutoff was $25,000 per year. This professor barely made the cut at about $27,000. There were hundreds and hundreds of names above him and without exception they were assistants to the assistants to the vice-chancellor for etc, etc. I was shocked. Sadly it is multiply worse today. UW system has three four year universities within 50 miles and if merger is so much as mentioned a firestorm ensues. Even Scott Walker hasn’t dared to stick his toe in that cauldron.

  34. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    “And these resorts are top-heavy. Like our costly public schools, colleges and universities are smothered in administration.”

    Absolutely! What exactly do these people do to create actual value that justifies their bloated salaries? And yes, administrator salaries are a huge reason why today’s public schools are hurting for money.

    Of course I’m biased. My four kids were successfully educated to adulthood without the involvement of a single administrator, unless you count me, the homeschooling mom, or their dad, whom we affectionately called “The Principal.”

    Anyways, great article. And like another commenter, I’m happy to know there are people like Self-Educated Private-Contracting Libertarian in our country. Hoping he/she can clone themselves!

  35. So long as employers require college and university degrees, colleges and universities can’t be blamed for charging what the traffic will bear. These institutions are out to make a buck just like any for-profit business even if, in the eyes of the IRS, they’re technically not-for-profit.

    For my part, I can’t understand why employers require these useless college/university degrees when most employers end up having to train their workforce anyhow. Pay the employer and skip the middleman makes sense to me. As an employer, an applicant’s college degree means nothing to me. I could care less.

    Of course, if I were the GM of an NHL franchise and Paul were willing to pay me a few hundred grand, I might give him a few minutes of ice time in a game that didn’t mean much. Why not? At no cost to my franchise, it’s money in the bank.

  36. talleyrand writes: “For my part, I can’t understand why employers require these useless college/university degrees when most employers end up having to train their workforce anyhow.”

    There was a Supreme Court case in the mid-70s, Griggs v. Duke Power Company if I am not mistaken, that essentially rendered certification of employees unconstitutional (as “racist”). Employers had to then find some way of evaluating prospective workers cheaply and easily, and the college degree came to serve the purpose. Today, however, the degree has been so watered down that a degree can only be said to be able to serve as notice to a hiring manager that its holder: a) was able to sit in a chair and take directions for four years, and b) did not burn the library down while doing so.

    I suspect that, at some point, the sheer volume of student debt will drive its holders to elect representatives to Congress that will either pass legislation to render Griggs a nullity or change the bankruptcy code to make student debt dischargeable. When that happens, colleges will become much more selective in who they accept as applicants and what courses of study they will be allowed to take.

    Your servant,

    Lord Karth

    Your servant,

    Lord Karth

  37. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “The facts that students drank and jollified in Luther’s Germany is totally irrelevant.”

    Wait. What? The idea that “students once led monk-like lives” is not some aside. It’s a central part of the argument, so much so that it became the subtitle. If you can not demonstrate when it was that students led monk-led lives, the notion of a decline seems quite a bit more difficult to demonstrate.

    You mention that you graduated in 1963. Off the top of my head, I’d say that the four most notable “college books” of the 20th century were all set, and in fact publiched, prior to that year.

    You might disagree, but I would say they were Lucky Jim, The Ginger Man, God and Man at Yale and Brideshead Revisited. The last is a stretch, but it starts out at a college, at least.

    In none of these books to the authors, who are pretty astute fellows, highlight any kind of monastic lifestyle.

    To the contrary. Any cursory review of college life reveals a consistent history of debauchery. Jefferson Davis was ousted from West Point over the Eggnog Riots, along with about half the class. They were mad about not getting booze. At Yale at the end of the 1800s, undergrads not only argued with local firemen, they shot and killed one. The towns people wheeled a Civil War cannon to East rock and prepared to lay seige to the campus. t Penn State, there was an annual drunken festival that entailed gathering all the wagons from local farms and burning them downtown.

    If anything the coddled and swaddled modern students are good bit more sober and responsible than their supposedly monastic ancestors.

  38. “It’s crazy to go along with that tide.”

    And yet that’s exactly the way they act and for good reason. The debate in public education today, especially amongst the most prestigeous public universities like Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, UCLA, Virginia, Texas etc. is whether their schools should become “Public Ivies” schools for the rich or would require massive amounts of student loans to attend. These schools the days of getting large amounts of state funding are over so they going into a more “public-private ” directions with an emphasis on facilities and such to attract the best student sin their respective states from the Ivies. Indeed, as far as Wisconsin is concerned, ideally the elite attend Madison and everyone else can go to their local UW system school or two-year college to get their degree-stamped credentials to be a part of the middle class.

    What happened at the University of Virginia is a direct result of this kind of thinking. A clique of wealthy benefactors wanted to oust the President because other private schools like Stanford and Harvard were spending a lot of money in online education while Virginia was still stuck funding the classics. If the “public” is taken out of the public university, then more conflicts like this will arise.

  39. @John Greene : Thank you. I can only say that, if you would like your own children to be like that, you must throw out your television. Growing up without television has been the greatest thing that I can ever thank my parents for. It’s so easy these days to just leave our kids to the “electric babysitter” but my parents read to us. Almost every single night. Not just short little kids stories but long, hundreds of pages long, non fiction books. The autobiography of Ben Franklin would be a good one to start with to teach independence, morality, the value of hard work, and many other valuable lessons. A little bit every night and there’s no limit to what you can accomplish! But television numbs the brain, rots the soul, and and kills children’s natural enthusiasm for learning. (Even the so called “good” shows are mind numbing drivel.) The #1 best thing you can do for your kids is GET RID OF YOUR TV! Get it out of your house completely and buy a bookshelf, put interesting books on it, and then just leave them there for your kids to find. They’ll find them, I promise. On a rainy day, when there’s nothing to do and they can’t play outside, they’ll start going through the encyclopedia letter by letter, they’ll dig out that old dog eared copy of the Fountainhead or A Connecticut Yankee, they’ll dream, they’ll explore, and they’ll learn. And in the end, they’ll cultivate a love of learning that no school can give.

  40. As an aside, my younger brother, who never went to high school either, is also a successful small business owner, the author of four books, is semi-retired now (at the ripe age of 29), and most recently was also the manager of several medical imaging centers. He speaks 4 languages, programs in several more, employes people all over the world, and has started and sold at least five businesses in the past three years, from a medical billing company to a carpet cleaning company.

    My younger sister started her own school for troubled teens when she was nineteen. Working with a shoestring budget, she hired some of the best teachers in her area, getting them to volunteer a few hours a week and paying them with nothing more than love and the feeling of a job well done. The school has now been up and running for more than eight years!

    The moral of the story is simple, completely get rid of your TV and get your kids reading, learning, and doing.

  41. RJ says: • Website

    The difference between K-12 and “higher” education here, as far as the public sector of it is concerned, is colleges and universities currently are much less nationalized. But by the same vein, private universities have become far too bureaucratic, such that a state and a private university now are roughly one and the same. In K-12, much of the oversight has become nationalized (i.e. at the federal level, just want to maintain semantic clarity here), so much of the issues from which postsecondary institutions suffer, you see to a lesser extent than you would in K-12.
    Imagine if we had a “No Child Left Behind” type deal enacted on postsecondary institutions nationwide…

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