The Peculiar Institution of Higher Education

Here is Victor Davis Hanson:

Just as a sermonizing Hollywood grates when it no longer can make good movies, so does a once hallowed but now self-righteous university seem hollow when it charges so much for increasingly so little.

Nothing is now stranger than the contemporary college campus.

Not too long ago, Americans used to idolize their universities. Indeed, in science, math, engineering, medicine and business, these meritocratic departments and schools often still remain the world’s top-ranked.

Certainly, top-notch higher education explains much of the current scientific, technological, and commercial excellence of the United States.

After World War II—won in part due to superior American scientific research, production, and logistics—the college degree became the prerequisite for a successful career. The GI Bill enabled 8 million returning vets to go to college. Most graduated to good jobs.

The university from the late 1940s to 1960 was a rich resource of continuing education. It introduced the world’s great literature, from Homer to Tolstoy, to the American middle classes.

But today’s universities and colleges bear little if any resemblance to postwar education. Even during the tumultuous 1960s, when campuses were plagued by radical protests and periodic violence, there was still institutionalized free speech. An empirical college curriculum mostly survived the chaos of the 1960s.

But it is gone now.

Instead, imagine a place where the certification of educational excellence, the B.A. degree, is no guarantee that a graduate can speak, write, or communicate coherently or think inductively.

Imagine a place that requires applicants to submit high-school diplomas, grade-point averages, and standardized tests, but rejects any requirement that its own graduates upon completion of college do the same by passing a basic uniform competency test.

Read more: American Greatness

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