I’m sorry but I disagree on many levels. Just for starters: are we seeking signals loud enough just to earn more $? Is that the point of the signaling posited here? Surely we want students to get more than $, and our society does not always reward important and fulfilling careers through money.
Education has flaws to be sure but it offers many things — both tangible and intangible that a kickstart project and independent reading will not provide, at least not consistently. If the point of the piece is to improve education so it encourages creativity and independence and problem solving capacities and a pathway to a career, then I agree; that is what quality education can and should do.
Perhaps the piece is written in jest — sort of an Onion piece.
Here are three qualities one can get from a quality college education that are hard to get through other means and they all serve as formative and loud and personally and societally valuable signals: peers from across the nation and the globe with whom one develops life long friendships and appreciation of different cultures and thinking through years of learning, living and playing together, including through team sports; an understanding of the world in which we live and our commitment to civic engagement through an appreciation of what undergirds our Democracy and how the history behind its creation; and access to the best minds in the form of faculty who provide wisdom and guidance in and outside of the classroom, motivating us to take intellectual risks, to pursue the limits of our capacities and to know that there is someone or more than one someone there to provide support.
True, not all colleges and universities provide the above. I understand that. But, when it works, education’s signals are remarkable; they can overcome poverty and trauma and difference and indifference; they can expand horizons in unimaginable and imaginable ways, many of which improve the collective good.
Does a kickstart project do that? And is the value of quality education reflected in dollars alone?