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Looking down the barrel at a costly college education, many students might want to ask what, exactly, they are getting for their money. After all, even the cheapest state schools run a few thousand dollars per year, and pricey private colleges top out at more than $30 grand. Add in room and board, and you're talking about $40,000+ for a single year of school. Multiply that over 4-5 years, throw in a few thousand for a semester overseas, and the price of an education moves into the Rolls Royce range.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the purpose of a college education; as I mentioned then, the most important skill that college can develop is the ability to think critically. Since I've been out of the academy, I've talked to a large number of people who are working (and hiring other workers) in the "real world." I've repeatedly heard that companies want their college-educated employees to be able to think independently, to be able to come to their own conclusions, and to be capable of understanding the consequences of a course of action. In other words, they want employees who are able to think critically. Unfortunately, however, this highly-important skill is in incredibly short supply.

There are a lot of reasons that students aren't being taught to be critical and independent thinkers. First off, it's a very hard thing to teach, and many professors aren't up to the challenge. Also, the hierarchical nature of the classroom makes it difficult to create free thinkers. Most importantly, though, universities have increasingly become bastions of dogma, the sworn enemy of free thought. In other words, rather than learn to evaluate the truth and value of a perspective, students are being inundated with the unevaluated and untested prejudices of their professors.