MID-MAJOR DEGREE, NO FRILLS? Joanne Jacobs has some troubling information about the performance of the state-supported universities. It doesn't do any good to offer low prices and access if students can't complete their schedules, and it doesn't do any good to threaten the faculty with new measurements of productivity while giving them ever more therapeutic responsibilities. To make matters worse, Number 2 Pencil reports that admission decisions at many public colleges might be more a matter of formula than of careful matching of students with programs.

That's not the worst news for the day. I took a break from writing to get a can of pop. The pop machine is in the English department's building. I heard a colleague from one of the departments housed there advising a senior, "you'll have a better chance of getting into a Ph.D. program with a publication in hand." Getting into a Ph.D. program??!? What is the purpose of a Ph.D. program, if not learning to write research? Now you have to do research to get into a program to learn to do research? No wonder there's an academic pyramid scheme in some disciplines, and an inexhaustible supply of postulants and novitiates to make up the new academic labor system.

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