Robert Winner

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Future of colleges

With the advent of Massive open online courses, you tube videos, Khan academy, udacity .... could the current view of universities and colleges be challenged. Currently degrees are favorable for employment ... however many are using the mentoring of interns straight out of high school. The power plant near us has a high school course for interested students and train them on the job ... those students are given favorable consideration for jobs.

Is this a trend and the "need" for a college degree many be a thing of the past.

Recent investigations into Sallie Mae and other government lenders may reduce the amount of college loans available adding to the issue. Further the trillions in college loans that are still on the books and costs continuing to rise.

Could on-the-job training replace the college requirements.

  • Oct 10 2013: I think that if we are to assume the value of a college education is purely within an objective set of knowledge gained, than on-the-job training would, in almost all cases, be more effective and could replace college requirements. However, this knowledge is not the only (nor the primary) benefit of a college education. The true primary benefit lies in the exposure to and critical evaluation of differing views. This is simply not replaceable, due to constraints of time and training, within the confines of on-the-job training, nor can it truly be done through online courses, particularly the massive and open kind. It seems to me that there were many a good reason why we moved away from apprenticeships and toward an educational system (uninformed citizenry, lack of job change potential, exploitation, etc.). In short, could it? Yes, it has before and could again. Should it? No, that would be foolish. Will it? In some case, probably so, and this will be a bit of a tragedy, but in others the trend will likely go the other way and education requirements will become more stringent (in higher-end jobs and fields, knowledge bases and skill sets will need to increase in order to offset the losses, both in number of qualified individuals and the quality of those individuals, at other levels).
  • Oct 1 2013: Robert,

    Think you are right - Apprenticeship programs with schools may be the way to go. Even today and in the past, there are many students that college is the wrong choice at that time. Reasons why these programs have fallen out of favor with industry are the cost, the number of individuals that fail, and those that pass leave the company.

    Colleges are changing to the new environment. I read the same article on Wharton - don't think they will change directions - there will always be a need for financial people, just not so many unless they go into other arenas. I know of one college that will accept credits from the mooc but for the basic. This may well eliminate 2 years of college. The interesting question is what will it do the the 2 year schools who students use for the 1st 2 years as a cost savings method. The soft and research elements will still remain.

    Did you see the article where a Law dean is proposing Law School be cut from 3 to 2 years - another example of cost savings and probably using the web.