"Class is cancelled? Omigod that's so awesome! I might have learned something by accident."
The Daily Beast's Megan McArdle, summarizing an interview with economist Bryan Caplan, points out that it's "actually fairly easy to get a Princeton education for free, as long as you don't want the degree: just walk in off the street and sit in on the classes. It's unlikely that a professor will kick you out, or even notice." No one does this, of course, since no matter how much you might have learned auditing courses, your degree-less self will fare no better in the job market than will the next autodidact.
Many students do the opposite, however: earning, or in any case receiving, college degrees after learning as little as possible. After all, writes McArdle, college students "cheer when class is cancelled. This makes no sense if the goal is accumulation of human capital. In no other business are customers excited to get less than they were promised."
The entire article is well worth reading.