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Although it sounds like the result of a heavily circulated (by Hotmail no doubt) office joke, this term is actually used in sociology. It refers to overemphasis of educational certificates as key to future success. It can also be used to refer to meritocratical ranking of the worth of people by how much school they've attended.

An example of this would be the tendency of an employer to hire an applicant with more education (at least the documented sort) instead of an applicant with more real experience in a given field. Diplomas are held in higher esteem than actual life experience.

The idea behind this term is that overemphasis on the earning potential of a diploma holder makes education into a ritual where attaining more degrees equates with making more money. It's ironic, though, since a good number of schools who formerly concentrated on humanities and more liberal arts oriented curriculum have slowly been transformed into institutions who stress vocational and business degrees.

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