There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the current higher-ed model. For the most part, any college degrees outside of medicine or STEM fields are a scam. However, there’s a new revolution in higher education brewing that will affect even STEM degrees: online, on-demand college courses for credit.
Straighterline.com is the first of what is going to be a number of businesses devoted to turning MOOCs, work history, self-study and cottage-industry online courses (taught by real college profs, on the side) into real college credit at the fraction of the brick&mortar school price. Straighterline is currently offering several 3-credit courses for fifty bucks. Extrapolate that out to a 120 credit BA degree, and you get a total credit cost of about $2000, And there’s no fees. Textbook costs will be lower, and you’ll be able to work more while doing the degree.
This new business model is in its infancy, but in ten years the available coursework is going to explode. Completing a four-year degree while never once stepping onto a college campus will soon be the norm. The savings are going to be huge, there will be no reason to go into debt to get a Bachelor’s degree, and most Masters degrees. Basically, only people who need to prove some mechanical skill, like doctors and surgeons (or welders and plumbers) will need to physically attend classes on a campus.
And people who start going to college right now, and who will go into tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt for the trouble, are going to feel like complete fools in a few years when they find out their $200 per credit college degree can be had for the price of a decent laptop and $10 per credit with no textbook costs (as Wikipedia and other online sources will provide whatever you need, short of very specialized coursework).
So, don’t go to college now, unless you’re doing it through straighterline.com. The price of college will be diving to the marginal cost of delivering it, and that cost is going to get really close to zero.
Filed under: Education