The Dirty Little Secret of Credential Inflation

College degrees, once the possession of a tiny elite of professional and wealthy individuals, are now held by more than a fourth of the American population. But as educational attainment has expanded, the social distinctiveness of the bachelor's degree and its value on the marketplace have declined -- in turn, increasing the demand for still higher levels of education. In fact, most problems of contemporary universities are connected to "credential inflation."

In 1910, less than 10