Your op-ed relating to credential inflation is on point. Beyond college credential inflation there is another "credential" inflation virus that has infected the US. It is the license or certification credential. No longer are 10 to 20 years in a field enough for an individual's worth or contribution. Individuals are now required to be certified or have credentials. Certifications that go beyond passing the bar, CPA, MD etc. Certifications such as black belt 6 sigma, AIPCS, PPM, CFA, CIA, CMA, etc..... Credentials that mean nothing more than the holder of the credential passed an exam. Again business assigning magic powers to an individual with credentials versus real world experience. It has created an entire industry on certification test prep, test taking etc.... while contributing nothing to the work environment. Even worse, relating to credential inflation, I have seen job ads, especially government job ad, that require a certain amount of real world experience, yet they also require college transcripts/grades regardless of whether the individual has been out of college for a period that makes transcripts/grades irrelevant. P.S. My background is 15+ years in finance, operations and project management, in manufacturing, hi-tech, telecom and cpg industries, complimented by an MBA/JD.
Blogging at Harvard Business Review, Michael Schrage makes a strong case that higher education has been oversold. What people need to succeed are skills and college is neither necessary nor sufficient for that. He calls higher education "a misleading-to-malignant proxy for economic productivity or performance." Very well put.
I'm pleased to introduce Jason Fertig as a new contributor at NAS.org. Dr. Fertig is an NAS member and assistant professor of management at the University of Southern Indiana. Dr. Fertig brings a depth of perception and lively anecdotes from his own experience in the classroom to speak to some of the most real issues in higher education today. He has written three articles for NAS so far:
More Millennials Need to Work at McDonalds advises recent college graduates: get a job, anywhere. Real Sustainability: Saving Our Sense of Culture asks, "Are we failing to hand down our cultural legacy to the next generation?" Dangers of Credentialing the College Degree: A Real-Life Example is a case study that illustrates the popular idea that students are entitled to get a passing grade - even if they don't earn one.
I especially recommend the third article, which received attention from blogs such as Phi Beta Cons and Joanne Jacobs. Also check out his essay at the Pope Center on the gap year, The Gift of Academic Maturity. Fertig spoke about the gap year this morning on Wisconsin Public Radio. You can look forward to more NAS articles by Dr. Fertig in the weeks ahead.
The Financial Times has an article on how corporations, which formerly touted their commitment to the environment as a marketing ploy, now really believe in the eco-cause. More and more business schools have "infused" sustainability into the curriculum due to student and corporate demand:
A cynic might question how deeply companies believe in the value of social responsibility but Tom Lyon, director of the Erb Institute at University of Michigan who holds an endowed chair at the school from Dow Chemical, insists that companies that approach him are “sincere”. “I am sure there’s some degree of reputation and image building, but there is also a sincere effort to be connected with a university. These companies want to be up to speed on the latest thinking, to know what students are thinking and to understand how to get the next generation’s best and brightest to come work for them.”
A sustainability director at Yale said, “We know you can get filthy rich destroying the planet, but now we’re starting to think about how you can make lots of money saving the planet.”
A colleague who teaches at Baruch College (the City University of New York's business school) forwarded an e-mail from the Baruch administration reminding faculty who teach certain core courses such as Marketing Foundations that they must follow a forced grade distribution of "20-30% A or A-, 40-50% B(+/-) (and) 25-30% C+ or lower". This curve is reminiscent of one under which I've labored as an adjunct at the NYU Stern School of business, where A's are limited to 35%. Grade inflation is characteristic of a McDonaldized higher education system under which students are customers for a degree product. But the solution is not intensification of the McDonaldization by inappropriately forcing distributions. There is no reason to assume that learning is normally distributed. All of the students in the class may learn the material well. The quality expert Edward I. Deming, who says that he gave all A's when he taught at the NYU Business School, points out that it is difficult to know the underlying productive abilities of a group of employees (or students) and that performance may be uniformly as well as normally distributed. Imposing a normal distribution on a uniform population is capricious, adds variance to the system and so is disruptive in Deming's view.