By Bryan Caplan
Arnold makes a very interesting remark:
I think that it is difficult for an entrepreneur to compete in the signalling market, because it is hard to establish the credibility of your signalling mechanism.
I would go further. It is difficult for an entrepreneur to compete in the signaling market because cutting costs almost automatically degrades the quality of the signal. If you offer a quickie education, your graduates haven’t suffered as much as graduates who served their time in full. In consequence, graduates of the quickie college look worse.
To really make the signaling value of a college education obsolete, an entrepreneur would have to figure out a credible way to show that “Even though this kid isn’t going to college, even though he can afford it, he would have done well.” It’s a tall order.
I’d say entrepreneurs would be better advised to “position their products and services as rituals of affluence.” It’s not easy, but at least we know where to start.