Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Darwinian College, the free market natural law college experience

(Please do not confuse this fictional Darwinian College with the real Charles Darwin University, or the real Darwin College.) 

Will Barratt, Ph.D.

Imagine the idea of college as we conceive of it in the US.  We have restricted access and strive for high graduation rates.  What if we had open access and restricted graduation?  What if we based college graduation on free market economics?  What if we based college graduation on pure capitalism?  This is about the private university system, in good capitalist fashion, and not about the socialist state supported public university system.  So what kind of university would emerge?

Darwinian College. 
Many will enter, few will graduate.
No admission requirements. 
$200,000 tuition and fees in cash up front.
If you are among the 20% who we let graduate, you get your money back.

Each semester administrators and faculty will intentionally cut the number of students so that no more than 20% of the students enrolled would graduate in four years.  Points toward graduation will be given for classes and for everything else.  Students must participate in intramural activities (sports and non-sports), must participate in student organizations, must do service activities, and must take on campus work and leadership roles.  Everyone is rated on all out-of-class and all in-class activities.  Summer experiences are required. 

Businesses don’t want to promote or even retain all employees.  The military only selects the best and most accomplished for advanced training and specialty services, and not everyone makes the cut. 

Darwinian College is a free market example of capitalism, using the natural law of selection and survival.  

Why shouldn’t college be selective like that?  Why is a high graduation rate a good thing?  Doesn’t a high graduation rate mean that the course work is easy and that anyone can pass the courses?

Imagine the prestige of being one of only 20% to graduate.  Apply now.

keywords: retention graduation college humor survival free market natural law selectivity humor social class

"See things differently and you will see different things"

January 2016 note: I am not endorsing this idea of a competition on campus.  This college idea is the natural extension of many business practices.  


BG said...

When my father was at Bard College in the '60s (a place with dizzying class connotations), it was like that. Maybe not 20%, but many people (including my dad) didn't make it through the process of "Moderation" after sophomore year. He remains a bit unhappy about the whole thing. But maybe it's for the best? I have a hard time imagining him as a model Bard graduate -- he's more interesting than that.

Many graduate programs also used to operate according to the same logic, and some still do: everybody gets in for the MA, but only a few are allowed to proceed to the Ph.D. Stories from my grad program (which changed its policy just before I started) indicate that it was a nasty place to be, with people actually stealing and destroying books in the library, so that others couldn't use them. Sounds terrible. On the other hand, had I been cast out by the old system, perhaps I wouldn't now be an adjunct? Food for thought.

Christina said...

Very interesting.

I feel like most colleges have to justify the validity of standardized tests which are supposed to show who will and won't succeed in college. If you got a high score on the test, you're obviously prepared for college and it becomes that college's duty to make sure you succeed. After all, they wouldn't have let you in if they didn't believe in you.

They weed out that other 80% in the admissions process.

Will Barratt, Ph.D. said...

(Emailed to Will)
I saw your post last night on Facebook and was intrigued and annoyed that you posited the issue on class competition. What if it isn't about competing for power or goods, but about possible transformation without winning or material gain? What if class codes are developed to allow assimilation and access for those not born into the fold? What if the next rung on the invisible ladder is about education and intellectual labor as opposed to physical prowess? What if brands and language and attitude are a form of descriptive camouflage for those not inheriting those traits? Dressing to class creates comfort in public arenas where one doesn't want to be shunned or ignored. Add a dash of proper speech and personal hygiene and food preferences and one can move undercover between tribes without being noticed. Anthropologists all - these class shifters take notes and stay alert and move on without winning anything but presence in a strange new world. It's great fun observing without being claimed by the clan. I live here now and nobody knows I'm a Communist and an Atheist and worst of all - a Feminist.

I'm not competing - I just Pass.