The foundation of the value of higher education is institutional trust -- The institution prints paper we call "degrees." Just as paper money is backed by "the full faith and trust of the US government," degrees are backed by the full faith and trust of the institution. A degree costs more than a piece of paper because of the public trust of the institution - its reputation. We trust that the institution has made sure that students know enough before they graduate so that they won't go out and be an embarrassment to the institution -- Accrediting bodies police schools as well. The system is necessary cause a lone individual has no way to show the world what they know or have done. Oh, wait - what about the internet? What about blogs, videos, websites, etc...?
This is what I was talking about. A school certifies two things:
- What knowledge, skills, abilities and accomplishments are "good" - i.e. important, useful, relevant, necessary
- In a particular field
- In general
- Who knows that stuff - or is smart/dedicated enough to learn that stuff.
Article about Anya Kamenetz here.
Read a chapter of her book here http://diyubook.com/read-the-book/