Posted by: crudbasher | October 1, 2012

Where is the Generic Brand of Higher Education?

Do you buy generic products in the grocery store? I do. I thought about this over the weekend when I went grocery shopping. I purchased the generic version of Scope mouthwash. If you compare the labels you will find the identical ingredients. Apparently, a company can have a patent on these things for a certain amount of years but then it becomes more open. Other companies can then copy the idea and make their own version. It creates more competition, therefore keeping prices lower. Even so, many people won’t buy the generic version of certain things. For example, I prefer the Motts applesauce rather than the generic version.

This all got me thinking about higher education. We have many different “brands” but they mostly teach the same things. A basic chemistry class is going to cover pretty much all the same stuff no matter what college you go to. In fact this is why many students are turning to community college for their first 2 years. They are getting a “generic” version of these classes. Even so, what about the higher level classes? One distinguishing feature is the teacher of course. The same material can be experienced much differently with an inspiring lecturer. Still, not everyone can attend these classes. If you were to take the same course and have it taught by others, would that be considered a “generic” version?

If this works in the grocery store to keep prices low, can’t it also work in higher ed?

Any thoughts?


  1. Isn’t our California State University system filling this niche? They are not Stanford or Berkeley, but they still confer degrees. And in five or ten years will it really matter where one has received their degree for most?

  2. Great question/thought Andrew!

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