The higher education bubble is finally bursting
My freshman year of college began in late August 2001. Less than a month into my pseudo-adulthood, the entire world changed.
None of us knew what was happening on September 11th. We huddled together in dorms to morn and vent and seek answers together. Classes adapted to discuss terrorism and hate.
Then a few days past and the initial shock wore off. Life at Florida State University mostly returned to normal. Well, whatever normal at college is.
Nearly two decades later and another round of college students are facing a significant upheaval to their experience. Instead of huddling together in dorms looking for comfort and explanation, students are going home to attend classes online.
I feel for the students who looked forward to this experience only to have the rug pulled out from under them. That said, coronavirus is the pin to finally pop the higher education bubble, and I am. here. for. it.
Education is and always will be a crucial part of our society. That said, college is not worth a lifetime of debt when a world of education is available at the touch of a button.
In 2012, MIT and Harvard teamed up to develop edX. Entire classes from two prestigious institutions of higher education were put online, entirely for free or with options to pay a little money to certify participation. Today, edX offers thousands of courses from institutions around the world, ranging from free to a fraction of their actual cost.
I’ve taken jazz appreciation from UT Austin and English grammar from the University of Queensland. I even took Doing Philosophy with Super Heroes from the Smithsonian. While I focused on electives, edX offers courses in every area imaginable.
edX isn’t the only option for high-quality, digital education. From Coursera to YouTube, many alternative services now offer a complete course catalog of higher education equivalent classes.
Today’s socially distanced, virtual college is almost identical to what edX and the like have been offering for years. The main difference? A lifetime of debt. While employers still value a four-year diploma over an online education, this is finally changing.
Google is one of the world’s largest companies. They employ over 100,000 people with an average salary with over six figures. Google is now considering a $300 Coursera certification equal to a four-year degree.
College is now obsolete. Good riddance.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved my college experience. I learned how to be an adult and a lot about who I am. Plus, the whole business major thing. Thankfully, I paid off my student loans and no longer carry the debt burden. But would I recommend everyone go to college today? Not at all.
Education is not one size fits all. The notion that a four-year school is the only option for a successful career is finally eroding. From trade schools to Coursera, there are plenty of opportunities for today’s students. Now that actual college is the same experience as Coursera or edX, it’s only a matter of time before more major employers follow in Google’s footsteps.