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By Rob Shimshock
Two paragraphs from a professor’s book perfectly capture the modern, watered-down state of America’s universities, explaining how the terms “professor” and “university” have become denigrated by their overuse.
The two paragraphs come from “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters,” a book by Thomas Nichols, a professor at Harvard University and the Naval War College.
“Not only are there too many students, there are too many professors,” says Nichols in an excerpt posted to Twitter. “The very best national universities, the traditional sources of university faculty, are promiscuously pumping out PhDs at a rate far higher than any academic job market can possibly absorb.”
Nichols claims that the doctorates offered by these schools are often of such low value that the schools would not even hire their own graduates.
“Scads of unemployed PhDs, toting mediocre dissertations in any number of overly esoteric subjects, roam the academic landscape literally willing to teach for food,” he said.
The professor argues that schools have even undermined this very title of “professor,” generalizing that all teachers are now called “professors” and tiny colleges are termed “universities.”
“American universities are still the best in the world,” explained Nichols to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “But they have also become, in many cases, client-centered institutions that are meant to capture loan dollars and produce degrees, especially graduate degrees, indiscriminately.”
“The military has a great expression for programs that only exist to propagate themselves: ‘self-licking ice-cream cones.’ Unfortunately, some of these schools are convincing young people to pursue graduate degrees that exist mostly to serve the egos or institutional needs of the faculty, or to maintain a cadre of inexpensive graduate student instructors toiling away on dissertations, with little thought as to where these new doctorates will go once they’re pushed out of the nest.”
While only a quarter of Generation X achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher educational degree, 34 percent of Millennials did so, according to Pew Research. However, the study also finds that median annual earnings for full-time workers have only increased from $32,173 to $35,000 between the two generations.