Monday, September 6, 2010

5. Graduate school is not what it used to be.

Grad school is not what it was, because college is not what it was. Before World War II, about five percent of Americans had college degrees. College was not a common experience, but something enjoyed by a minority of people who had access to the privilege of a college education either by virtue of their social standing or because they were genuinely bright. Colleges drew from a small segment of society and could be quite demanding of their students. Latin and Greek were often required subjects. After the war, as American higher education was “democratized,” state-supported colleges sprung up by the hundreds. As more people graduated from college, more jobs required college educations, and hence the demand for higher education grew. Graduate schools had to produce more and more faculty members to staff the expanding centers of higher learning.

Standards, of course, had to conform to the demands placed on institutions of higher education. Latin and Greek were no longer requirements, and just as the genuinely bright or socially established were no longer the only ones with access to college, graduate programs had to grow to include people closer to the middle of the bell curve to meet the demand for new PhDs. The days of wildly expanding job opportunities in academe are long gone, but the large graduate programs are still around. Graduate students today may be above-average in many respects, but they do not represent, generally speaking, the intellectual elite, and modern graduate school requirements reflect this.


  1. are you seriously going to try and argue that this supposed golden age of the phd past was more meritocratic for the "genuinely bright?"

    1. He DID say "or socially established." Not sure what the problem is here.

    2. The strange thing about the situation today is that there is less academic work to do to get a doctorate (or master's) than there used to be, but people are taking longer than ever to get through grad school.

      Foreign (not just classical) language requirements have been reduced, dissertations are shorter, and most of the physical drudgery involved in academic research and writing before the age of the computer is a thing of the past.

      Grad students shoulder more of the burden of teaching and grading, so that slows them down, and a lot of them linger because they see how bad the job market is going to be for them when they get out. All the same, it's hard to imagine average grad students today mastering the kinds of things that would have been expected of them a couple of generations ago.

      Was there ever a golden age? I don't think so. There was the post-Sputnik hiring spree in higher ed, which probably felt like a golden age if you had multiple academic job offers at the time, but opening up the Ivory Tower changed its nature.

    3. In Britain, the press has been covering the decline of the PhD for years.

      Times Higher Education (19 July 2002):

      "In short, the PhD is in danger of becoming a joke."

      The Independent (14 May 2009):

      "Until recently the PhD was the top qualification available in British universities. It was the preserve of the very few, and required students to contribute new knowledge in their subject area through research. Now there's a widespread perception that anyone can do one, whatever the subject."

      Times Higher Education (20 February 2014):

      "To cut to the chase, a significant number of the theses we have examined did not deserve to pass – at least, not in the form in which they were submitted. One of us has examined six doctoral theses in the past year and believes that not one of them was worthy of the degree. Yet he had the means at his disposal to fail only two of them. Administrative conventions and examination procedures, not to mention social pressures, simply did not allow the possibility of failure."

    4. "are you seriously going to try and argue that this supposed golden age of the phd past was more meritocratic for the "genuinely bright?""

      It was more so then than it is now.

      At all levels.

      Come on, we have grad students now who can't function in English. Hell, we have FACULTY now who can't function in English.

      I have seen numerous instances of "scholarship" from Harvard that would have been public embarrassments 40-50 years ago.

      Major cheating and plagiarism scandals occur every couple of years now - including one that had been in motion for over a decade and implicated hundreds of students, and a couple of professors. The scale of academic dishonesty has increased dramatically.

      In the past, there was more merit-based rather than "identity-based" academic work. The product of merit-based scholarship is an increase in knowledge; the product of "identity-politics-based" academic work is marketing.

    5. Yeah. When only upper class white men were giving their opinions on everything, there was no reason to discuss the role identity plays in scholarship and knowledge production. Let's go back to the time when PoC, women, people of marginalized gender identities, and people outside the "developed" world couldn't fully participate in academia.

    6. The issue is not one of representation or even participation. It is one of approach and attitude.

      Real scholarship produces good research. We don't care who produces it, as long as it's solid and verifiable.

      Identity politics produces riots through confirmed lies, deaths and complete breakdowns in law enforcement through "social justice," and ruined careers over Halloween costumes. It misappropriates scarce resources because of feelings of entitlement, and is even now in the process of crippling academia. It is a tool for political interests, fosters a lack of objective analysis, and is employed to secure resources for the support of those political interests.

    7. @MEzikpe

      SJW alert!

  2. Sadly, this to me is true nowadays. Not to sound pompous, but I noticed that my peers in college were not as bright as my high school classmates and I. Some of those peers were enrolled not due to their academic ability but due to their families' financial wealth.

    The "dumbing down" of college has already begun; the "dumbing down" of the next rung on the academic ladder is bound to happen, and it seemingly already has.

    1. Classmates and me

    2. On the contrary, "classmates and I" is correct because "as" is not functioning as a preposition but rather as a subordinating conjunction introducing "as my high school classmates and I [were]" where the first person pronoun is a subject.

    3. Yes, "I" is correct! :-)

  3. So, don't get bother to get a degree from a less-than-stellar school.

    1. Students, undergraduates and graduate students alike, at Columbia University-- Ivy League in name only, I know -- are quite f&*#ing dumb, too.

      Harvard and MIT -- or whatever is the single top school in your field -- or bust...

  4. 12.17 here, and not sure if 6.32 was directed towards me... if so, I'll let you know that the school was supposedly not "less-than-stellar" but a top SLAC in its region and, more recently, a top SLAC in the nation.

  5. This is one of the most concise explanations of the higher education bubble that I've ever read. I often try to explain this, with less coherence and concision, to friends who ask me why "someone like me" isn't in grad school. I now can send them this post if I don't feel like getting into it. Excellent.

  6. This tired meme of "Greek and Latin make you smart"?

    Okay, so I don't read Latin or Greek like Octavian, but I speak French and Italian fluently. How are the classical languages so superior to modern living languages? I can't read Ovid, but I can read Dante and Voltaire.

    On top of that, I also know HTML, CSS, JavaScript and some Visual Basic. I can build a website, link it to a database and provide graphical interface with my work. How well did JRR Tolkein or CS Lewis, geniuses by any measure, do with computers?

    Today's skill sets are different. My penmanship is atrocious, but I can type over 75 words a minute. I never read many classics, but I know a lot more about economics than most of my humanities professors did.

    1. Not trying to wave my dick in your face here, but I read fluently in Greek, Latin, French and Italian (and am competent, though not fluent, in a few other modern languages). Greek and Latin don't make you smart in and of themselves, but you have to be pretty smart, motivated and hard-working to learn them, which is why they're a good qualification for entering grad school. Both require the student to deal with grammatical concepts requiring a greater flexibility of mind than the Romance languages do for an English speaker.

      You will have noticed that the French and Italian grammars are virtually identical, but without reference to an ancient language you might not be able to see how similar French and Italian are to English. Greek and Latin have a system of inflection that means our standard way of parsing a sentence in the Romance languages, looking at the order of the words, is not helpful. Each word contains its own grammatical function: whether it is the subject, object, indirect object, instrument, location etc. Prepositions are far rarer. The level of semantic meaning in individual words is far denser.

      Even inflected modern languages like Russian and German don't approach the alienness of Greek and Latin. Greek has a tense that as far as I know doesn't exist in any other European language. It has a "middle" voice as well as an active and passive -- again, something that doesn't exist in other languages. Virtually all Greek's qualification and description of action is done through participles which have far greater variety in aspect, tense, mood and voice than participles do in English, French or Italian. Latin is closer to us but not by much.

      The other point in their favour is that they are impossible to learn without sitting down at a desk and grinding through hundreds of hours of rote memorization of forms and vocabulary. Competence in Greek/Latin is proof that you know how to do shitty, boring work, for at least a year in most cases, for a far-off reward that brings its own difficulties with it. French and Italian you can pick up in about ten minutes, and once you get to a low stage of competence you can improve your language skills by reading real untranslated literature.

      You can't learn Greek or Latin by reading them -- you have to learn the whole grammar before you can even begin to make sense of anything written in the language.

      Has the tired meme of "classical education makes you smart" been used to oppress the working class, minorities, women etc? Yeah, undoubtedly, and that is evil. But the social structures that have prevented those people from learning the languages in the past are no longer so powerful; if you're at college, all you have to do is take the class. The benefits are immense: so many other languages are made available and simple to you (which is helpful for doctorates that require a few modern languages), and you're exposed to, and made to read very closely, some of the best literature in the world. Provided it's made available to everybody, knowledge of Greek and Latin is a really helpful indicator of capabilities relevant to grad schools.

    2. Nobody cares... :-/ :P

    3. "Greek and Latin don't make you smart in and of themselves, but you have to be pretty smart, motivated and hard-working to learn them, which is why they're a good qualification for entering grad school."

      Or you can be pretty smart, motivated and hard-working and learn something that will be helpful for a real job in today's world. Like, say, engineering. You will learn to reason and think as you study calculus, physics, science, etc. And this too will show that you are hardworking and motivated plus help you get a paying job.

    4. The question isn't whether they help you get a real job; it's whether they're a useful requirement or standard for grad school entrants. If you're heading to grad school you're not in the market for a real job for a long time to come.

      If you look at Harvard's graduate entrance exams from the end of the nineteenth century you'll see they required strong knowledge of mathematics as well as Greek and Latin (it wasn't a question of one or the other, as it is assumed to be today). That's the slip of standards that the blog post is talking about.

      I notice some posters think that the correlation of these standards with the systematic oppression of minorities in the US equals causation. I think that's a pretty naive view to take.

      One of the benefits of concrete standards, tested by examination, was that all you needed (always provided you were white and male) to get into grad school at the turn of the twentieth century was ability. A farmer's son who taught himself Greek out of old textbooks could study at Harvard by passing an exam (like Quentin Compson in Faulkner or Jim Burden in Cather). Nowadays you can't self-educate: you need to have spent four years at a college, realistically a high-end college, which means you have money or the ability to take on a ton of debt. It definitely doesn't mean that you've been particularly well-educated. Furthermore you need to kiss enough ass to get those perfect recs.

      Grad school entrance requirements no longer test solely on knowledge and ability -- they also test on whether you're a socialized member of middle-class society. The idea that the current system is more egalitarian is a joke, and the idea that removing classical standards has opened the floor to minorities is too. Take another look: grad school cohorts are still almost wholly white, upper-middle class people, and the means used to ensure that are quite as insidious. They just know less now.

    5. I have yet to take the GRE, but I have read through a couple of recommended prep-books for it. I needed no study (and somehow managed a thoroughly engrossing opiate addiction) to get a 30 on the ACT a few years back. I'm the child of a single mother waitress, folks, so this was impressive to me since mine was the highest grade in my Title I school that year, the accolades of which I took with a grain of salt considering its standards--so I am not particularly worried about the necessary sections of the GRE for entrance into my MA program at my state flagship. I say all of this because I have not seen "middle-class society" except through literature, and even then, the more obsessively one gets into it, the more observant one becomes of the failings of said society. To this day Jack London's alcoholic memoirs haunt me, he "who read too deeply of the pessimists."

      I don't think the GRE is going to be troublesome.

      But I do think having to competently learn a foreign language, any foreign language much less those of antiquity, would be a good obstacle to a PhD program. I quite like my French authors, whether theorists or novelists or poets, but I will not fool myself into thinking my readings of their translations are as rigorous as reading their works in the original language. And French is considered easy. Latin does not a smart man make, but it does a 22 year old's work ethic prove. I am no such man. I read my English canon and contemplate on my own time.

      And I still value Orwell's essay that condemns academic institutions for valuing dead languages in his own time.

    6. "Or you can be pretty smart, motivated and hard-working and learn something that will be helpful for a real job in today's world. Like, say, engineering. You will learn to reason and think as you study calculus, physics, science, etc. And this too will show that you are hardworking and motivated plus help you get a paying job."

      I beg to differ.

      Anyone who thinks that studying a given subject actually gets one consideration as a hard worker hasn't been paying attention to what actually happens to these poor deluded kids who mostly have only years of part-time and occasional work to look forward to, along with mountainous student debt.

      In our enlightened, contemporary society, study is not considered "work." Scholarship is not considered "work." And most shockingly of all, "work" is only considered "work" when it is directly applicable to the job being applied for.

      We are raising millions of individuals who despite being hardworking, capable individuals, are first alienated from their own educations and then by their own work experience simply because our economy - composed of decisions founded in belief, opinion, myth, and misconception - has no place for them. We then berate them for not being competitive, intelligent, practical, or industrious, and then we import millions of immigrants to take their jobs directly and aid in the export of national industries (hence, taking their jobs indirectly).

      There is nothing more stupid than to demand excellence in qualifications, make those that rise to the challenge pay through the nose, and then not only snub them in the particulars of their preparation, but prevent them from entering into any but the same jobs they might have had otherwise.

      This is a gratuitous sacrifice of future productivity, and a form of social engineering designed to cripple nations. It
      will prove to be both America's and Europe's undoing, should it continue unchecked.

  7. Oh, yeah. That "golden age," when the "genuinely bright" went to graduate school. Provided, of course, that they were white, male, and, at the very least, middle-class.

    In general, I'm supportive of your project, but this kind of lazy argumentation, which is premised on racist, sexist, and classist assumptions about the ways in which people of color, women, and poor people--all of whom are still underrepresented in most graduate cohorts--have "dumbed down" graduate school with their very presence undercuts, to say the least, your credibility.

  8. As a T.A. from two academically decent schools (UMass Amherst for an undergrad program and Simmons College for a grad program), I have to agree that college has been "dumbed down." Just look at the way T.A.'s are instructed to grade assignments - at both institutions, I was instructed to only remove half a letter grade for spelling and grammar mistakes, because the critical thinking evidenced in the papers and exams were more important.

    I've also had questions at both institutions that made me question how certain students are allowed into college. "What's a pharaoh?" "The three branches of the U.S. government are Federal, State, and City, right?" "Hey, just because I didn't answer the exam question doesn't mean you can fail me, does it?" Seriously, you can't tell me academic standards haven't decreased.

    1. It amazes me how these people who bitch about these issues call such awful academic "decent." In excess of a quarter of all new PhDs in most fields come from the top 10 or so schools, where the hell did you think you people think you fell in the proverbial pecking order.

    2. It amazes me how these people who bitch about these issues call such awful academic "decent." In excess of a quarter of all new PhDs in most fields come from the top 10 or so schools, where the hell did you think you people think you fell in the proverbial pecking order.

  9. @Lazy, Anon PC November 10, 2010 11:18 AM

    How can telling the truth “undercut” one’s “credibility”?

    Most colored people admitted to highly selective undergraduate and graduate programs are manifestly unqualified, and are admitted via affirmative action. This has been shown to be the case so many times that if you truly aren’t aware of it, you’re unforgivably ignorant. However, your assumption of the validity of “disparate impact” theory (“underrepresented”) points to dishonesty, rather than ignorance.

    Admitting unqualified people dumbs down an institution, as the night follows the day.

    As for your scorn of history, the most demanding undergraduate college in American history was the old City College of New York (CCNY), before it was destroyed 40 years ago, in order to admit semi-literate and functionally illiterate blacks and Hispanics. As James Traub observed in his book City on a Hill, most of the brilliant, predominantly Jewish students who attended City during its glory years (and a great many of whom later attended grad school) endured much worse poverty than the overwhelmingly incompetent black and Hispanic students who succeeded them, and who destroyed City.

    Nicholas Stix

    1. "Colored people"! Really? Did you have a bad experience in grade school that you are having trouble recovering from? Geez,Nicholas, if you were in grad school when i was people would never have stopped punching you in the face.

  10. Obviously, author, you have not been to graduate school. Pity.
    (For the record, I'm a black woman studying computational neuroscience at one of the top 10 medical research schools in the nation (I don't put race on my applications). My father, an immigrant to this country, studied organic chemistry at a graduate level and was associate director of a *very* large pharmaceutical company before retiring. Suck it Nicholas.)

    1. Why can't black people, even those who claim to be academically elite, refrain from using profanity and dragging conversations into the gutter?

    2. Racist, anyone? Because sometimes using fancy words to say that he can go fuck himself are so ineffective!

      And by the way, I am not black, but Hispanic and I graduated with honors, currently speak three languages and have a 3.9 in college. Yeah, poor ignorant me!

      For the record, it was people like you that ruined by childhood. I was spat on and told I was worthless by countless teachers because of my hertiage. I spoke English better than most white kids; however, was thrown in ESOL because my last name. Oh and by the way, my parents worked miserable jobs for years; as such, I was in daycare early on where I learned to read, count and spell all before kindergarten. And you know what happened? I was treated like shit by my teacher.

      The woman above me didn't drag this conversation to the gutter-you did. You showed your ignorance to the world! Good job, asshole.

    3. I understand this person's assumption, though I doubt he/she have any statistics with which to back up his/her claim. I am here politically correct because I don't want to stake claims on his/her gender, though I suspect whatever that "it" is pisses sitting down.

      I also understand that a racist ethic works in tandem with economic class to allow bigoted windbags into institutions of higher education. If you doubt it, ask a Southern gay white man from the lower class. He doesn't wear his status on his skin. He does know what Du Bois wrote about a century ago. He does know the exquisite thoughts of James Baldwin. And he does know the rationalizations of the New World extension of the bourgeoisie if he has ever seen it mechanized from a window of exclusion, even if he knows it is more ephemerally cultural than material.

      The afro-asian-latino-proletariat-homo-nonstandard-sexual-whatever cultural project exists for a reason, no matter how people disparage theories which don't even apply to their particular identities. We, too, have senses and a brain with which to process them, and the third sense we learn, after sight and sound, is arrogant bigotry--and we know its nuances. I am a pale white man, and ye, I am colored.

    4. I'm of non-Hispanic European ancestry, and I was treated poorly for my early literacy by my preschool and 3rd grade teachers as well. What does that tell you?

  11. Dear Anonymous “Black Woman” Genius (“ABWG”),

    The only reason I am even aware that your post was a “response” to mine is that you insulted me by name, though you neglected to sign your own. An oversight, that, no doubt.

    Your post does not respond to a thing I said. Still, I know that you are a genius, because you left no doubt, and because I know that all black women are geniuses, except for those who have either been held back by racist white male morons like me (please pardon the redundancy), and those (e.g., meritocrats and conservatives) who fail to recognize the genius inherent in being a black woman. Ultimately, I know of black women’s genius, because black women constantly announce the fact.

    In your meta-parenthetical, ABWG, you maintain that:

    1. I have not attended grad school;
    2. You pity me;
    3. You are a black woman;
    4. You are studying computational neuroscience at one of the top 10 medical research schools in the nation;
    5. You don't put race on your applications;
    6. Your father is an immigrant who studied organic (presumably for a master’s, since you would have said if he’d earned a doctorate), and was an AD at a pharma giant; and
    7. You are the offspring of a wealthy family.

    Even if I were to believe all of your variously unsupported, erroneous, and disingenuous assertions, none is in the least germane to my comment.

    The literature, both scholarly and journalistic, on affirmative action in higher ed is copious. As a smugly superior BWG, surely you must know this.

    And yet, if you are such a genius, why would you post a comment that is full of irrelevancies?

    On one point, however, I do believe you: You are a black woman. Certain characteristics are typical of BWGs, including but not limited to:

    • Responding to arguments they hate with irrelevancies;
    • Displaying toxic levels of self-esteem; and
    • A willful refusal to distinguish between the individual case and the class.

    I look forward to the next time you deign to school me, ABWG.


    Nicholas Stix

  12. LOL. Way to go Nicholas. You sure showed, 'ABWG'.

    To 100rsns. Great post, by the way. I'm currently a college sophomore and I've considered taking my Phd later on but your blog bas been a real eye-opener.

    I found your site thru another great ant-graduate blog which was also very helpful. Anyone interested can check it out:


  13. Christa,

    Thank you for your kind words, and for the link to selloutyoursoul. I just read the linked essay, and James/Rusty's "About" section, and hope that he is able to help folks change their outlooks and habits.

    Nicholas Stix

  14. I went to grad school in the mid-80s, and I'm sure it's not what it used to be, but:
    1. What is? and,
    2. It never was what it used to be.
    Once when I expressed that i was impressed that a friend had finished an MS in biology, she said "well, you don't know what I DIDN'T have to do to get it."

  15. WOW, I've never seen anyone soar to such stunning heights of hyperbole in an effort to defend being a racist! I used to hear the Klan make the same arguments back in Mississippi, but dagnabit if they couldn't put it into them fancy words like this feller can. (Pardon the vernacular). I posit that the main thing dumbing down universities is overeducated idiots like the poster above. Ignorant people with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. "Toxic levels of self-esteem" <--- LOL, what a pompous ass. :D

  16. You know, I hear people making Nicholas's argument rather frequently, but I always wonder this: if most "colored people" (that alone should be indicative of what era this man has his head stuck in) are unqualified and are only admitted due to affirmative action, then why are they STILL underrepresented at top institutions and in the top echelons of educated society? After all, if the schools are going to let any uneducated schmuck in for the sake of a superficially diverse society, they might as well balance it out making black and Latino people 30% of the population of these places (as they are of U.S. society) instead of the roughly 15% they make up as undergrads of elite colleges, ~7-10% they make up as grad students and 3% they make up of academic positions? Doesn't make sense to me.

    Also, I'm going to need some citations for this supposed volume of literature that unquestionably shows that the vast majority of people of color got into colleges based on affirmative action and that they are unqualified.

    1. AnonymousMay 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM

      Google is your friend. However, if you prefer that I do your homework for you, go to my primary blog, Nicholas Stix, Uncensored, hit the PayPal "Donate" button, and contribute $2,000. That will entitle you to four hours of my time.


    2. One day you will die and nobody will remember you, Nicholas. Your hateful bigotry will be forever lost to the ages and nobody will care, no matter how much you insist on the contrary, everyone you know personally hate you, they just know better than telling you upfront. Your existence is really sad but thankfully people like you will be bred out of existence very soon :)

  17. Just because affirmative action exist thankfully doesn't mean all races are going to be represented perfectly proportional to their population size. If this were the case, I can't imagine how hard it would be to get into a top school if you're Asian and how easy it would be to get in as a black student.

    ABWG statements are indeed completely irrelevant. Everyone knows there are some very intelligent minorities, pointing out one specific example proves nothing.

  18. This is so incredibly true anymore. Pretty much everybody and their mother can get into college these days. Originally when I decided I wanted to go to college I chose a 2-yr business college and then enrolled in a 4-yr public school and couldn't believe that I thought I would be one of the dumbest people there. There are so many people in undergraduate education that are too stupid to be there and are just doing the minimum to get by, skipping class, getting drunk on weekends, and acting (or maybe not) like they have no intelligence. Now-a-days the notion seems to be "if you can't go to college, go anyways".

  19. Entering this argument pretty late here. Sorry for that. Another 'anonymous' female here, but a white one with only a high school education to my own name.

    As the mother of a GaTech Phd and Tulane magna graduate who got there on a full ride without affirmative action?

    From what I see, those who bitch the loudest about affirmative action are the ones who are only borderline acceptable themselves. WAY more weight is given to accepting applicants whose mommy or daddy went to a given school than to the minority status of those who qualify for affirmative action.

    When applications contain no identifiers as to race, sex or ethnicity PERHAPS we'll be able to call the playing field level. Until then, I'll continue to support affirmative action.

  20. "From what I see, those who bitch the loudest about affirmative action are the ones who are only borderline acceptable themselves."

    Bingo. What people don't see are the invisible barriers holding some racial minorities back because of the shameful history behind today's society as we know it. Affirmative action, on the other hand, is quite tangible, and therefore easily attacked.

    "College was not a common experience, but something enjoyed by a minority of people who had access to the privilege of a college education either by virtue of their social standing or because they were genuinely bright."

    Since when is an uneducated general public a good thing? If college is becoming a necessity in acquiring a job, so be it. There will always be those who seek enlightenment above what is considered average, increasing the standards over time. But everything is relative; we will soon reach a time where 5% of people have PhDs. Don't you want the human race to improve over time?

  21. With the addition of for-profits, the stakes are getting even lower.

    1. I think the author meant:

  22. The reason why minorities are underrepresented in higher education is simple.

    It is not a judgement about how smart they are, or their ability to learn.

    It has everything to do with crabs in the bucket syndrome.

    A black guy wants to go to college? OK, idiots will tell him he's acting white. They'll pressure him not to go until he gives up.

    So stop the crabbing and minorities will prosper.

  23. After getting a PhD, I've done postdoc at one of the supposed top-20 universities in the world. I've seen things I couldn't believe. I've seen grad students completely incapable of thinking, incapable even of recognizing that they cheat when they do cheat, get their PhDs and move on. I've seen a student literally hysterically pushing buttons on instruments until a random outcome fit what she thought she needed to prove supervisor's theory true. She got her PhD, and is now a postdoc.

    All in all, grad school cannot be taken seriously - a PhD may be a genius, or may be a total incompetent idiot, there is no way of telling merely based on the degree.

  24. In terms of the declining standards check out the "Education of Dasmine Cathey" article on the Chronicle of Higher Education's website. Apparently you don't even need to read at a third grade level to get into the University of Memphis.

    Now, in terms of the bettering society through education goal, why shouldn't standards be kept high and have everyone speaking Latin and Greek? Isn't lowering standards a slap in the face to the (relatively) newly educationally enfranchised? It's not like it hasn't been done before; the eighteenth century Irish Catholics often traded in those classical languages, in a time when it was more or less criminal to be irish and catholic and educated. Accountability needs to start in K-12 though...

    I apologize for grammar and the lack of a link... I'm typing this on my iPod and touch screens frazzle me, lol.

  25. While I certainly cannot agree with Nicholas' tone, he points to a very difficult reality that MUST be accepted.

    The U.S. still does not deal with issues of race in an honest way. It is littered with failed and half-hearted attempts to deal with the legacy of racism and slavery. One of the worst of these has been Affirmative Action. It has not been able to fulfill any of its promises and in some cases has caused more damage.

    The pressure of increased "diversity" is a case where the government has FORCED institutions to dumb-down standards or face fines and possible legal action. This increases hostility toward minorities and increases discrimination, because it fosters doubts about how genuine some of their academic accomplishments are.

    Walter Williams addressed this:

    If we really want to help blacks, we have to deal with where it starts - childhood education.

    The anonymous woman stated "My father, an immigrant to this country, studied organic chemistry at a graduate level and was associate director of a *very* large pharmaceutical company before retiring."

    That means that none of this applies to you. Non-American Blacks are the most educated group immigrating to the U.S. right now. While it is possible you may face some discrimination, you are not a product of American black culture which has internalized a whole host of self-destructive habits.

    If you have grown up in a pre-dominantly black community, then perhaps this is part of your identity, but you STILL have the benefit of parenting by a foreign culture with different customs and habits.

    1. It will only be through careful reconsideration of the history, aims, and actions of the Democrat Party as pertains to the African-American community that the African-American community will progress.

  26. When college graduates made up <5% of the population (generally before 1920, it was up to 10% by the 1940s if you include normal schools and the like), it was possible to survive in the economy as an industrial worker or farmer. How comfortable that "survival" was depends on your perspective. However, those endeavors did not necessarily require the ability to read and write.

    So of course, as the economy changed, so did education and grad school. The point here is?

  27. In 1969 I started grad school in Ancient Greek at Edinburgh. There were no required classes, no teaching of courses, and only 33 months residency required. The American who finished before me got a tenure track job at Swarthmore, and I had no reason to suspect I could not do as well.

    I decided on another life path. But that was what things were like then.

  28. haha this is so inaccurate. you've discredited yourself.

  29. Stumbled across this thread rather late, but it is worth knowing that although one could get into the Ivies in the 19th century by passing your exams in Latin, Greek, and whatnot, back in those "good old days" of high standards, a phenomenal number of test requirements were simply waived if the applicants couldn't pass but were of the right background. I think the number is around half, if I remember correctly. Anyone interested in this topic should read Jerome Karabel's the Chosen to see how arbitrary and far-removed from merit the selection criteria of the so-called "elite" institutions has been and continues to be.

    1. Winston Churchill provides an amusing anecdote - one of several involving his childhood education - where he failed his Latin exam for entry into a prestigious "public school" (read as "private school" in the US) and was accepted anyway. Admittedly, we are not discussing university here, but a stage rather junior to that.

      Later Churchill tested into Sandhurst (a military college) by sheer luck, having by chance studied the geography problem on the exam the previous night.

      Of course, had he not been accepted at either, the trajectory of his life, and so many other lives, would very possibly have been quite different - even perhaps altering the outcome of the Second World War.