This is a subject that comes up often, especially as the cost of higher education continues to grow so rapidly.
So here is my take on things.
Costs are Skyrocketing
In 2021 the average costs for tuition and fees was as follows:
Public In State – $10,740
Publis Out of State – $27,560
Private – $38,070
(Source: The College Board “Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021)
Another source stated that tuition was rising at twice the rate of inflation.
Colleges have become like big businesses but with little of the restraint provided by competition in the real business world.
So Many Alternatives
The Internet provides so many free and low cost learning alternatives. Many big universities provide free access to courses. What is still missing is a way to organize it all so students can document what they have been learning.
What I am not talking about is many of the online “universities.” They can be expensive and may take an already questionable college experience and replace it with a “degree” that is not recognized by most employers.
I’m into computers and software and have good luck with Udemy.com . They run a lot of sales so watch for your favorite courses to have lower prices. There are other well received options also available.
Are Easy Loans Good?
My thoughts on this have changed over time, and honestly I’m still not sure where I stand. Certainly the availability of loans have helped mahy go to college that would not otherwise. On the other hand, easy loans have probably fueled the rapidly rising costs of higher education. And I believe that the average 18 year old has no idea of the impact of signing for $100K in loans.
Some Will Fold
My prediction is that many private colleges will fold. There are just so many people that can shove out $50K plus for a college without name recognition. Just this past week I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about the increase in private colleges merging in order to survive.
Colleges have a place but they need to change. Their competition is the Internet. At the moment mostly what separates them from just learning things online from free and low cost alternatives is their accreditation. At some point someone is going to start allowing
students to learn completely on their own and provide an accreditation based on exams or demonstrated projects that prove competency.
Young people still need to learn things after high school. Less expensive Community Colleges can fill that need. Maybe some mixture of 2 years at the community college plus exam and proven project accreditation can work.
So, Is College Good For You?
Like many things in life the answer may be “it depends.” If money is not an issue then traditional college may make sense, as long as you realize it is just a starting point. You probably need more practical skills to succeed. However the social side of things cannot be ignored. College can help you build lifelong relationships that are more difficult if you are learning completely on your own.
Two year community colleges make sense for many people. Get the basics for a less expensive cost and then transfer for more specialized learning.
Online learning makes sense for many and will continue to grow. Think about how you might demonstrate your learned skills to potential employers.
So much more can be written about this topic. I plan to explore it further.
Photo by Charles DeLoye on Unsplash