Skip the College Education; Just Get the Tshirt

Seth Godin notices a problem (or two) with big-time, big-money, liberal arts college educations:

A lot of these ills are the result of uniform accreditation programs
that have pushed high-cost, low-reward policies on institutions and
rewarded schools that churn out young wanna-be professors instead of
experiences that turn out leaders and problem-solvers.

Just as
we’re watching the disintegration of old-school marketers with mass
market products, I think we’re about to see significant cracks in
old-school schools with mass market degrees.

Back before the
digital revolution, access to information was an issue. The size of the
library mattered. One reason to go to college was to get access. Today,
that access is worth a lot less.

I’ve been thinking along the same lines for some time, but where Godin sees a coming meltdown in higher education, I think it’s going to be more like a big bifurcation (and I can use that big word because I have me a college edumacation).

I think big, liberal arts colleges will continue to be big and continue to demand big tuitions. And those tuitions will be paid by people who seek high-paying, soft-skill jobs, like lawyer, college professor, and political hack.

However, people who actually want to do things for a living will increasingly seek out alternates to the traditional big college liberal arts degree.  For-profit technical schools and online universities will continue to get bigger and siphon off students who want to finish school with a marketable resume (i.e., one that doesn’t necessarily include 16 credit hours of Marxist-lesbian critiques of Hamlet).

Traditional schools that are run by smart people will start to offer ITT-Tech-type tracks to people who just want to get an education so they can join the workforce. Most colleges, though, will ignore this trend and continue to offer degrees that are designed only to impress college professors and girls at Lilith Fair.

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