Tuesday, February 10, 2015

College as vodka

From a New York Times article on Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and the rise of George Washington University:

Mr. Trachtenberg convinced people that George Washington was worth a lot more money by charging a lot more money. Unlike most college presidents, he was surprisingly candid about his strategy. College is like vodka, he liked to explain. Vodka is by definition a flavorless beverage. It all tastes the same. But people will spend $30 for a bottle of Absolut because of the brand. A Timex watch costs $20, a Rolex $10,000. They both tell the same time.
O brave new world.

[The Times notes that the article is adapted from a forthcoming book by Kevin Carey, The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere. Sounds like an argument for MOOCs, alas.]

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