UNIVERSITY EDUCATION IN AMERICA is turning into an expensive, futile endeavour for the consumer, the student. The rise of “academic capitalism” appears to be the cause, in the opinion of Thomas Frank who has a splendid, insightful essay on a site called The BAFFLER, “Academy Fight Song”. It's a multi-faceted problem facing people who have no choice.
The coming of “academic capitalism” has been anticipated and praised for years; today it is here. Colleges and universities clamor greedily these days for pharmaceutical patents and ownership chunks of high-tech startups; they boast of being “entrepreneurial”; they have rationalized and outsourced countless aspects of their operations in the search for cash; they fight their workers nearly as ferociously as a nineteenth-century railroad baron; and the richest among them have turned their endowments into in-house hedge funds.
Now, consider the seventeen-year-old customer against whom this predatory institution squares off. He comes loping to the bargaining table armed with about the same amount of guile that, a few years earlier, he brought to Santa’s lap in the happy holiday shopping center.