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First newspapers, now universities: It's transformation time

Philip E. Auerswald
Philip E. Auerswald is Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy, George Mason University, and associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He co-organized the GMU-APLU Presidents' Symposium on the Future of Collegiate Education at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, held this month.

The commencement season that has just drawn to a close has been, once again, a wonderful time to celebrate our enduring rituals of collegiate education.

Now prepare to say goodbye to them.

This isn't to say that traditional four-year colleges are going to disappear overnight. They won't...not any more than major-market newspapers have. But leaders in higher-ed have reason to pay serious attention to the disruptive changes technology has forced upon journalists and other knowledge workers: our industry is next.

To be sure, university presidents can rightly claim that our nation's institutions of higher learning remain a key source of the talent, technologies, and innovations essential not only to American economic growth, but to expanding human welfare on a global scale. They can point out that universities are, in many U.S. cities, among the largest employers and otherwise contribute substantially to local economies. And, as they watch national rates of college enrollments reach all-time highs, they can extol the enduring value represented by a college degree.

Yet all these seemingly positive indicators are masking severe weaknesses in dominant collegiate business models. The costs of a college education have risen more rapidly in the past quarter century than even the much-discussed cost of health care, yet over the same interval the quality of the service provided has--let's be honest here--not improved. Meanwhile, real wage rates have been edging downward since Watergate and now credit markets, on which students and parents have increasingly relied to finance tuitions, have locked up and show no signs of loosening.

All of this creates opportunities for a new set of educational leaders--the "edupunks" whose disruptive innovations are featured in an excellent new book by Anya Kamenetz titled DIY U. Online degree programs such as those offered by the University of Phoenix--which alone now enrolls as many students as the entirety of the Big Ten--represent only the first wave of competitive challenge to colleges. Other relatively recent entrants like Western Governors University and the Savannah College of Art and Design, along with start-ups such as Straighterline.com, are beginning to redefine the competitive landscape in higher education by offering students new low-cost, high-flexibility options.

As five inter-related trends take hold, more fundamental changes lie ahead. First (trend 1), students are going to stop showing up. This is already happening, actually, on a course-by-course basis. Even where classes are over-enrolled, lecture halls on campus are often half-empty. The reason is simple: Students--particularly those in the large-lecture courses that are core revenue generators for colleges--have figured out that they don't have to show up to learn. As long as they can get the grade, and ultimately the credential, they're satisfied.

That is, of course, until they wander over to the financial aid office. Because, as we all know (trend 2): There ain't no money in the piggy bank. For all the blather about "saving for college," the reality is that the average American family isn't going to be able to put away a hundred thousand dollars for each child headed to college. This means that when tuition time comes, they'll be borrowing. Only, guess what? That's right (trend 3) the banks aren't going to want to lend, because, as noted above, credit markets have tightened more-or-less permanently. And neither state governments--cue laugh track--nor the federal government is going to be able to cover the difference.

Does this mean that the next generation of students will accept uneducated destitution? No, of course not. What it means is that they're going to be looking for alternatives--a quality education at a price they can afford. And, increasingly (trend 4) they're going to find it.

New entrants in the market for collegiate education will be weakly branded relative to those of powerful incumbents...say those with teams that have played in the Final Four. As a consequence, the successful ones will focus on competencies rather than credentials. They'll have data and evaluation to support their claims of quality.

Because talent is the core competitive differentiator of the 21st century, students seeking educational choices will have global business on their side (trend 5). Corporations are already accustomed to sourcing talent globally--in many cases from other sets of universities that no one here has ever heard of, but which are producing highly competent graduates. And they're ramping up their own programs of corporate education. As the global corporate world refines its systems to assess competencies directly, rather than relying on the often imperfect signal conveyed by the embossed letters on a college degree, the true tipping point for collegiate education will arrive.

What all of this means for leadership in higher education is that while resistance is futile, obsolescence is far from assured. The coming transformation in higher education will be gradual, and it will be incomplete. Many of today's elite institutions will not only survive, they will prosper. Other institutions that clearly define, measure, and communicate the value they bring to individual students--and not just to society as a whole--will prosper. As for those whose strategy is to repackage past glories as a vision for the future on forlorn trips to bankrupt legislatures, the road ahead will bear a greater resemblance to Grand Theft Auto than to The Paper Chase.

Future success in higher-ed will depend on agility, clear vision, and a willingness to deal with the world as it is--rather than as we would have it be. While learning is still in for today's students, school's out.

Weigh In: Are university leaders doing enough to re-imagine higher education?


By Philip E. Auerswald

 |  June 8, 2010; 6:00 AM ET |  Category:  Education leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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PauvrePapillon: What unions? Professors, like Auerwald, are free-agents working for the highest bidder. Superstars get paid very well. Slackers and the unfit don't make tenure (ye old "publish or perish"). I don't know where this myth of "lazy professors" comes from, but I have family members that are professors, and they are all type-A personalities that work their butts off. My brother has recently questioned his choice of vocation, and may switch, as his friends in industry work less overtime and get paid considerably more.

Maybe there are backwater schools where professors sit around doing very little, but at any big state or ivy league school, they are working their butts off.

But, hey, "blaming it on the [mythical] unions" is a much easier story to tell and doesn't require critical thinking.

Posted by: steve1231 | June 14, 2010 9:40 PM

Maybe some areas, such as Public Policy, can be taught via correspondence course (i.e. online), but I would never hire a chemist, dentist, engineer, psychologist, physician, or lawyer that got their degree that way. And when my son goes to college, it will be *away* to college. There is much to be said for interacting, and learning from, a college community in an out of class that you can't get from sitting in front of a computer in your parents' basement.

When I think about my favorite classes as an undergrad, whether they be my animal behavior class, my economics class, or my South American geography class, I can't imagine any of those being taught online. It's like sex online: it's just not the same.

Sorry, but this is lazy "me-too" thinking.

Posted by: steve1231 | June 14, 2010 9:33 PM

Brick/mortar and online schools are needed in this era of competitive and innovative learning. However, adults get more out of online learning than a 17 or 18 year old just starting college. High school graduates, some of them, may not have the same discipline as that of a matured adult and may not get much out of sitting in front of a computer in PJs taking an online course. Yet, online learning offers many advantages and benefits for the working adult. Brick/mortar will have to change from the traditional standards of teaching, i.e., shorten lecture time and provide hands on training in real-world workforce.

Posted by: mldavis2009 | June 14, 2010 2:10 PM

I am a graphic designer who has taken multiple classes on-line as well as in a classroom that are hosted by our local community college. Whenever possible, I take classes in a classroom because the on-line system is too rigid and pre-packaged to be useful when I have questions or problems with the material. Much of what I gain from the classroom classes is interaction with the other students and the hands on help from the teacher (these are software and programming classes). Networking has proved to be one of the best benefits for the classroom classes. Fellow students and teachers have become friends and collaborators in projects.

I think on-line classes can be useful, but for a quality educational experience, real-life classes are much, much better.

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Posted by: rfghhjhk | June 14, 2010 10:43 AM

Mr. Auerswald you are spot on with the matter of class attendance. In large lecture classes where profs post PowerPoint notes attendance is poor and getting worse. Kids nowadays are conditioned to get most of what they need online. The millennials want flexibility and to make their own schedules, which makes online courses attractive.

The for-profits presently are fulfilling a niche as state budgets are tight, enrollments are up and they are able to accommodate our enrollment spillover. Right now everyone is happy. The future of the traditional academe is more uncertain. The for-profits increase competition in the already competitive market of higher ed.

But, you can't attend a football game at Phoenix U or be part of a frat/sorority or participate in social activities. The traditional academe still has a huge draw for full-time students. The traditional college experience remains a nice transition to adulthood. The biggest impact will be felt at commuter schools and with older, part-time students where the for-profits offer many advantages. I think the for-profits provide a nice alternative to those who do not want the traditional college experience. I also think the for-profits will force traditional colleges to offer better financial aid packages, which is a very good thing.


Posted by: citizen4truth1 | June 14, 2010 9:52 AM

I've been teaching at private universities and colleges since '87, and in every article of this type I see one element overlooked. Young people see college not as simply an education, but as an experience. They want to get away from home for the first time, travel to a new region, they want to meet new people and get involved in campus organizations. They use college to explore career choices, and they do this through the feedback they receive from their fellow students and teachers. There's not going to be any mass exodus from this experience in favor of spending four more years at home in front of a computer.

I think the University of Phoenix and other online schools cater to people who are already beyond college age, and so it's not really a realistic comparison.

Posted by: darkglobe5 | June 13, 2010 11:53 PM

The flawed philosophy underlying this article is captured in the comment concerning large lecture classes: students have figured out that "they don't have to show up to learn." Of course they do. What they have figured out is that they don't have to learn, or even show up, to get a credential. That is what makes so many of the new online programs popular; students don't have to show up, and they don't have to learn much.

Posted by: JohnAhrens | June 13, 2010 11:45 PM

@PavurePapillon (cont.)

A lot of content simply won’t stream online, too. How does one put a science lab online? At the advanced undergraduate level, a biology or chemistry major requires serious lab work...which is possible how? A typical big university has anywhere from 150-200+ majors in 100+ fields, which adds up to 3000-4500 entirely different courses taught. Putting 1600 of them online is fine, but how many actually work as online courses?

What’s more, is a government bureaucracy going to be a model of efficiency in providing online courses? And is replacing a teachers' union with a government workers' union really going to be an improvement? And will that government bureaucracy be able to innovate new courses quickly in response to changing technology and social needs?

Past the undergrad level, your proposal is even more laughable. A doctorate in science is often earned almost entirely in the lab. Labs don't exist online. Doctoral coursework in the humanities and social sciences is almost entirely discussion-based, which means that there are no formal lectures to be had. Much of the work is done one-on-one with faculty members, and the doctoral degree culminates with a student's own research, directed by a professor. However, since you've fired the professors, there will be no one left to train future scholars in research methods, or to advise them about how to best develop and tackle a challenging problem, or to evaluate the quality of their work. None of this can simply be streamed in a lecture online, and even what can be handled through online interaction still requires two or more people having a conversation, except now with webcams instead of sitting in the same room together.

Sorry, but an education is more than just an information dump from an assortment of lectures. Many students already recognize that lectures are fairly useless. Even more skip quickly through lecture content online. Your proposal isn't going to change much in the cost, and it's not going to improve the education that anyone receives. Quite the contrary, it will end up creating a bunch of set online courses that almost never change, and for which students can readily find answers to exams and copies of completed assignments online. This is already a huge problem, worse than universities are willing to admit, and trimming the educational system down to a few thousand canned courses online will magnify the problem a thousand times over.

Posted by: blert | June 9, 2010 12:52 AM

Fire the professors. Disband the teacher's unions. Close the diploma mills. Put every major, every bachelors, every masters, every doctorate (as well as junior high, middle school and high school) online for free and let every U.S. citizen learn as much and excel as far and as fast as he or she can.

Posted by: PauvrePapillon | June 8, 2010 7:42 PM

------------------------

Interesting sentiment. I can agree with you to an extent about unions, but that's about where the agreement ends.

To start, I'm not sure what would be gained by firing professors. Complaints about "lazy academics" tend to come from people who don't have a clue how hard most professors work. Many are workaholics to the point of foregoing or sacrificing family lives. Most work very, very hard, and their output is amazing. Take away all of the discoveries made by professors and university researchers in the past century, and we'd be living in an unrecognizable world without many of our technological toys and amenities, without many of the medical advances that keep us living longer than ever in history. So, no, I don't think that firing the professors is a solution.

As for closing the diploma mills, does this include online, for-profit diploma mills? As the author of this article notes, the University of Phoenix enrolls more students than the entire Big Ten. That's huge, and other online schools, too, are turning out diplomas like never before. Giving everyone access to the same courses isn't really going to end the "diploma mill" dynamic. What people want is a degree to get them into jobs. As long as this condition exists, schools will serve as diploma mills.

Putting courses online is great, but how exactly do you propose to grade all of the coursework? Simply streaming content online is not enough. Who is going to read and grade all of those papers, exams, and assignments in every discipline? I've taught in an online course before. Even with all of the content already set online (which itself cost a couple hundred thousand dollars or more to accomplish), it still required a professor and just as many teaching assistants to grade the coursework, plus the addition of a part-time IT person to keep the online material running. $1.6 billion will probably only suffice to educate 20-30,000 online students for a single year, if that.

Posted by: blert | June 9, 2010 12:46 AM

I'm a high school math teacher, and I think there are possibilities with online school. But whether online, or bricks and mortar, the ultimate problem and solution is curriculum and causing the student to focus on grades rather than understanding and experiencing what genuine acquisition of knowledge and real critical thinking are. Right now, public school math curriculum is archaic. This goes on through college. In Newsweek, I read about an MIT grad who was homeschooled and has made incredible advances in mathematics. He said the structure of school doesn't allow you to really understand mathematics, and I think many subjects for that matter. I haven't discussed this issue with this guy, but I'm guessing the curriculum does not allow for genuine inquiry, the way geniuses make genuine inquiry. So I don't see online school changing anything unless the curriculum is an improvement over public school, which is a possibility if some smart guy out there realizes it.

Posted by: Playitagainsam | June 8, 2010 11:45 PM

From what I have read about online universities I'll take a campus education anytime. The costs alone make it a clear choice.

Do I want to hire a kid with an online chemistry degree or one that spent time in traditional university chem labs? And online teaching is not that new. In the 1970s I use to skip many classes since the class was videotaped and I could watch the tape, or any previous tape, later in the library. But I also made many friends, people who I trusted to study with and professors who changed my life and friends who I still have 30 years later. I doubt I would get that taking courses in my pajamas at home.

I see online universities as focused on making profits and not on maintaining an institution of educational excellence. The same difference between nursery school and day care in my opinion. One is focused on teaching while the other is focused on profit, yet both appear to serve the same purpose.

Posted by: Fate1 | June 8, 2010 11:39 PM

Certainly, one doesn't go to college or a university anymore for access to a first class library. We all have access to that now, wherever we can connect to the internet.

Posted by: PostSubscriber | June 8, 2010 10:59 PM
--------------------------

Actually, this is wrong. A lot of undergrads may not entirely realize this, and people outside of universities probably do not at all, but the free internet is only a fraction of the knowledge available out there. Much of what researchers (and college students in advanced coursework) are required to look at is not available on the web unless one is willing to pay, and sometimes not even then. Google Scholar is great, but the book views are typically incomplete. Academic journal articles are even less readily available.

This is where university libraries (and especially big university libraries) still provide a huge benefit to students. The journal subscriptions and book holdings are highly valuable to a serious undergraduate, and they are essential to any graduate student or professor.

As an undergrad, I found myself biking across town regularly several times a semester to get materials from the big state university library that my small liberal arts university lacked. As a grad student, the lack of a world-class library would make the effort at a degree almost senseless. Even for many professional degrees, what, for example, is a law student supposed to do without access to law journals? They aren't available for free on the web, I'm afraid, not unless one has access through a university portal.

Posted by: blert | June 8, 2010 11:37 PM

I've been thinking about this issue a lot, since I've got one in college, one in 11th grade and one in 7th grade. Certainly, one doesn't go to college or a university anymore for access to a first class library. We all have access to that now, wherever we can connect to the internet. So what is college for? My conclusion has been that the key benefit is the chance for a student to have personal interaction with a professor, and be inspired and challenged to learn and achieve more than would ever be possible through self study. So one group of institutions that should benefit the most from the digital information age are colleges and universities that offer high quality instruction in small classes. If cost and academic prestige are roughly equal, why would anyone want to take lecture courses with hundreds of students, rather than in a small class with a professor who actually knows your name?

Posted by: PostSubscriber | June 8, 2010 10:59 PM

Excellent article!

Yet, the author does not touch the aspect of corruption in higher education.

Who can address the corruption of values that has become a vicious cycle!

The corruption of values is what is killing the American higher education!

This one emanates from treating students as customers rather than deemed knowledge seekers!

Posted by: samantas | June 8, 2010 9:59 PM

Comparing newspapers and higher education doesn't really work. News consumption is a passive, one way process and is well suited to the online format. A quality educational experience, in contrast, requires the student to be an active, engaged participant in a live, real time, bricks and mortar setting with other human beings. There is an energy or chemistry there that just can't be replicated in any other way. Sorry, but online learning is little more than a glorified correspondence course. It's a static, dull process that imparts very little learning. A happy, satisfied "customer" of a for profit online college? As rare as the dodo bird.

Posted by: 1180 | June 8, 2010 9:44 PM

GETTING FROM YOUR COMMENTS, THE PHENOMENA OF COLLEGES OF USA ARE SIMILAR TO THAT IN CHINA.
IN CHINESE UNIVERSITY, THERE ARE MANY STUDENTS DON'T STUDY HARDER AS WELL, AND MONEY CAN MAKE EVERYTHING EASIER.

Posted by: LeoKai | June 8, 2010 9:17 PM

As a current college student, I dislike online courses. I choose my courses as much as possible based on the professor (except obviously required in-major courses offered only by one professor). I think human interaction is an important part of education and cannot be replaced by technology.

Posted by: sarahee | June 8, 2010 9:13 PM

College, in fact all classroom education, is already obsolete.

The annual budget for the U.S. Department of Education is $160 billion. For one percent of that ($1.6 billion) you could allocate $1 million per course to create 1,600 online courses per year. With that kind of budget, you could hire Disney or Pixar or The Discovery Channel or the University of Phoenix or DreamWorks or whoever and have courses that are thorough, concise, interactive, dramatic and entertaining.

The average bachelors degree consists of only about 40 courses. Within a very few years, you could have every field from bachelors to masters to doctorate available online to all U.S. citizens -- for free -- with those completing the programs receiving an accredited degree from the United States Academy of Arts and Sciences.

For a fraction of what we now spend on education, every U.S. citizen could learn anything they want, at their own pace, without having to drive or live miles away from their home, without going into debt and without suffering through boring lectures that are more of a boost for the professor (or graduate assistant’s) ego than a learning experience for the student.

Next, you could move it down to high school, junior high school and middle school.

We spend a fortune for so-called education in this country. What we really have is a very expensive baby-sitting union complete with pensions, tenure, paid vacations and Cadillac healthcare benefits. It makes no economic sense whatsoever.

You want to balance these budgets both State and Federal? You want a highly educated work force? You want to relieve parents of the burden of paying for college degrees? You want to relieve young families of the burden of tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt?

Invest a relative pittance to organize and present all human knowledge online. Use the best lecturers, interview the most prominent people in the field, utilized charts, graphs, archival film, all the tools, all the tricks. Make it interesting, interactive, efficient and intelligent.

Fire the professors. Disband the teacher's unions. Close the diploma mills. Put every major, every bachelors, every masters, every doctorate (as well as junior high, middle school and high school) online for free and let every U.S. citizen learn as much and excel as far and as fast as he or she can.

Posted by: PauvrePapillon | June 8, 2010 7:42 PM

I took one course at the M.A. level at The University of Phoenix. I consider it a rip off. Although all the students in my "class" had a B.A. or B.S., it was obvious most of them had never been required to do a formal paper. Many of them lacked basic computer skills. In the middle of the course, the University announced a fee hike but offered to grandfather the original rate if we would speed up the course and the degree. As far as I am concerned, I learned nothing new except that at least this on-line program was a rip off.

Posted by: n01cat1 | June 8, 2010 7:16 PM

Phil, your argument has two parts. One is about the economics universities face in the future and one is about the value different educational experiences will have in the future. You're right about the fact that the future economics are tight (and you don't mention that they're presently tight, despite high tuition). But the issue about what kind of education will be valuable for graduates is very debatable. It would have been better if you had acknowledged the debate at least. For example, check out Stanley Fish and David Brooks columns in NYT for some arguments about not letting go of the face to face liberal education, even of classics. I bet some universities will bet this way and some will be that, and so will potential students. Then the employers will decide who is able to think better..

Posted by: mjford2 | June 8, 2010 7:03 PM

I believe post secondary and high education has served us well. However I see with the information highway we have availed, we could create a curriculum VERY EASILY that would provide most high school graduats with a minimum of MBA knowledge. Thanks to technology and the rapidity of devices or tools, there is no end to what we can teach our children from the moment they enter first grade. But than you already knew that didn't you?

Posted by: jakesfriend1 | June 8, 2010 6:53 PM

College?

I can open up my I-Tunes and right there, among all the Podcasts, is the I-Tunes University. Something like that. On-line lectures from the major schools, available 24/7, in just about any subject. Not a substitute for college, yet. But the day will come. We aren't in the 19th century any more.

Posted by: John991 | June 8, 2010 6:16 PM

Today, a Sergeant in the Army can make over $80K with benefits, a college degree not being required, but desirable past a certain point. In skilled professions, doctor, teacher, lawyer, etc., the college degree still makes sense. In business, and for those who have select skills such as information technology, or for those going into the military, the college degree is not a real prerequisite. At one time, college was a rite of passage for children to move on into adult life. A few years out of the work force, away from home. Today, the kids may just likely be staying home, working at Wal-Mart, and then going on-line to study. As for the routine of writing papers, memorization, and the like, the on-line world makes a lot of sense. But, for those who need real world experience, internships and the like, the real classroom will still beckon.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | June 8, 2010 6:05 PM

Intersting column. I would love to have seen metrics behind your trends.

I'm with AxelDC on this one. From my experience, you can see the difference in quality of education when college grads enter the work place -- not for everyone, but certainly for most.

Posted by: Hoogineer | June 8, 2010 6:03 PM

Great column. I want to quibble with one of the comments. Public higher education frequently defends itself by pointing to the debt loads of students at for-profit higher education institutions. However, student debt loads are pretty comparable when one includes the taxpayer subsidies that go to public colleges and controls for the socioeconomic status of students entering these schools. All of higher education is supported by subsidies. Public colleges just get some from their states' taxpayers.

Posted by: burck | June 8, 2010 4:54 PM

Pretty soon people won't know how to talk to one another. They'll just do everything via their iPhone. What's next, procreation via facebook?

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 8, 2010 3:39 PM

To save for college is somewhat futile, if the savings disqualify the student for tuition discounts, grants, or work-study programs that subsidize students with no savings. Income and asset criteria applied to the parents for determination of costs merely encourages deception. The net impact is merely to channel affluent students to better state schools with lower fees, and to cause private schools to draw students who pay less and who, after graduation, may be less likely to earn enough to repay debts or contribute to endowments.

In any case, Americans would not become more prosperous if every 22 year-old had a BA and $100k in debt, or if everyone saved $100k for the same end. There simply aren't enough high-paying jobs that truly require a degree. Most degrees convey no skills pertinent to many of the skilled positions that do exist. And most of the coveted "career path" slots will be offered to kids at the high end of the socio-economic curve that would likely have gotten those slots if SAT scores and two years of internships had been the criteria instead of degrees. Most entry jobs require internship or prior work experience anyway, and the kids who get the better internships or PT entry jobs tend to be the very same ones favorably situated from the get-go. The use of a college degree as a "qualification" for work is mainly an expsnsive elitist hurdle.

High schools that rate their performance by the percent of graduates they send to college are also culprits in the scam. Unless the students they place later get degrees and jobs that pay enough to pay back the debts (and many do not), they are merely "kicking the can."

Universal military service might serve a better function of social integration, maturation, and competency screening. Conversion of our high schools into military academies (complete with KP or courts martial for defiant dead-heads) might be even wiser. Too often, kids leave HS or quit college to seek from the military precisely the structure and order which our glorified academia discredits or masks.

Finally, education should not be judged merely by how it serves the top 10% or 20%, but how it enables (or more often discourages) the other 80%, or else be downsized to suit the minority with sufficient money or special objectives that elitist education might complement. Public money should be invested in alternative schemes that help match those who want to work with the work there is to be done.

Posted by: jkoch2 | June 8, 2010 3:32 PM

The problem with your assessment is that for-profit institutions are more expensive and less reliable than traditional universities and junior colleges.

A recent episode of "Frontline" highlighted the problem with for-profit schools, who take 10% of Federal student loan money but account for 50% of defaults. This is because their grads cannot find jobs in their fields to cover their unaccredited, and very expensive educations.

College may have gotten more expensive, but how much of Phoenix's tuition goes into those subway ads papered all over DC? They also have an army of recruiters promising the moon to students who basically couldn't cut it in real universities.

The Federal government has realized that they and their students are getting fleeced, and it will become far more difficult to get Federal funding for these ersatz universities in the near future.

I'm sure other professional schools are great for trades, but a liberal arts education is not going to be supplanted by a diploma mill run by a guy without a college degree himself. I certainly would be loathe to hire someone from those schools when a proper college grad is up for the same job.

Posted by: AxelDC | June 8, 2010 1:27 PM

Thoughtful piece. It's trend #5 that intrigues me most. I can envision a time when high school students focus on key competencies—writing, presentation and presentation and critical thinking skills in the two years after high school and then make a commitment to an employer who tailors the rest of his education to its industry or peculiar needs in return for a commitment of time with the employer.

In uncertain times and a shrinking stateside employment market, this trade-off may be attractive to some students. After a few years with a company, the experience plus the “corporate degree” may be as attractive as the sheepskin from a traditional college. After all, once you have the first couple of years of work experience, where you received your degree—and often what it is in—are less a factor in hiring decisions.

Bob Griendling
www.griendling.com

Posted by: bob16 | June 8, 2010 11:48 AM

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