Is this cheating, or just effectively marhsalling your assets?

You simply must read this article at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I work in admissions for “Directional U.”  I handle potential MBA students.  I also do a little advising of the students.

There are a large percentage of our students that would not consider hiring the author of this article cheating.  That most of that number of students are on a visa of some type is just a seat of the pants calculation on my part.  But I do remain convinced that there is a significant cultural aspect to this problem.

Also, the paper described in the article (the author does mention other papers and topics that are even more troubling) is a paper for business school.  So isn’t the student showing effective managerial skills?  She is getting the work done in a fashion that most companies would find acceptable.  Yes, I am bothered that the paper is on Business Ethics, but think about in broader terms.  Do you think Big State U football players are writing their papers?  Do you think all the rich kids are writing their papers?

I think this is a symptom of the larger problem of credentialism.  Government and large corporations increasingly look to certifications and credentials in hiring and promotion decisions.  When the certificates and credentials required have little to no bearing on the work required you are creating the conditions for people to cheat without one whiff of guilt.  Why bother actually learning anything for the credential when we all work with people who have the credential and it is obvious the credentials are worthless?

We’ve all read articles lately about how much of the jobs requiring a bachelors degree really don’t need that level of education, so why do you expect a student who knows this to work hard for a degree?  They don’t want to be educated, they want the credential.  Cheating becomes efficient.

I also think the credentialism is further support of the signaling model of education.  For those of you that don’t know this model, let me google that for you.

With credentialism, it is not about what you learn, it is all about what you signal.

One Response to “Is this cheating, or just effectively marhsalling your assets?”

  1. […] is posed by Bryan Caplan on the signaling value of education, here, via our reader Mike's site, here. (Thanks, […]