One of my biggest frustrations with academia was the tendency to place emphasis on work. I've heard that this can be different at other institutions, but most people I've talked to generally agree that emphasis in college was placed on work.
Here's a recurring example: I'd often get a lower grade than other peers who "worked harder", even though my final grades or output were very clearly of a much higher quality. I generally didn't have much use for going to class, as I could learn what was presented much more efficiently on my own.
Not that I really cared about getting a B+ instead of an A -- if I did, I would have gone to every class. But it seems like the emphasis on work gives students the wrong priorities.
There seems to be two inputs to value: work and ability. If you have less ability, you can compensate by working harder than average. And if you have above average ability, you may tend to work less.
Note that ability doesn't necessarily directly translate to intelligence, and that I'm not downplaying hard work: those who both work hard and have ability will produce the most value.
But by putting emphasis squarely on work, academia is punishing those with above-average ability. My experience in college was that both the top 5% and bottom 5% of any given class did the least work, but doing less work was uniformly regarded as bad.
In the real world, though, value is most important. As an example, let's take two people who make pottery. One is a natural artist, and makes beautiful pottery. The other tries really, really hard, but the pottery isn't great. It may not be "fair" to the person who tried hard, but the beautiful pottery will be sold for much more money, as it's of higher value. What really matters to people is how much value you are providing them, not how much work you put into it.
I'm also not saying that ability can't be learned: in the above example, ability may represent both natural artistic abilities and learned skills.
It seems like a much better system would be to judge on value, and compare the final output. Those with less ability would be required to work harder to produce the same value -- they won't be taught that hard work without value is OK. And those with above average ability wouldn't be weighted down performing bullshit work; they'd have more time instead to focus on projects more interesting and useful to them.