Some things outlive their usefulness. Here are a few reasons a traditional college education might be one of them.

We all have that one thing in our lives we keep around without really knowing why. If you live and work in a big city, you may still have your car from the days when you used to live in the suburbs. At one time, the car had a purpose. But now? It just collects parking tickets and bird poop.

If you think hard enough, you can probably find something like this in your life. The same is true for society as a whole. Have you ever seen a pay phone and wondered why it’s still there?

Some things outlive their usefulness. Is a traditional college education one of them?

Why we used to need college

Long before the Internet came along, in post-WWII America, information and knowledge were hard to come by. Knowledge was largely centralized in the universities, so if you wanted to gain the education necessary to obtain a middle-class job, you needed to go college. And the government paid you to go to college through programs like the GI bill.

Somewhere along the way, though, things changed. College tuition started rising more than the cost of living, and wages stopped increasing, making college a questionable financial investment. The quality of a college education began to decline, and employers started to realize that doing well in college didn’t correlate with doing well in a real-world job. The old system started breaking down.

Today, the Internet has decentralized knowledge and government funding for college has dried up, but we still see college as the only viable option for an education. Why? Because most employers still require college degrees.

But what if we could find jobs that didn’t require a traditional college degree? And what if we could find a way to acquire the knowledge required to be successful in those jobs without incurring $100K in student loans?

With the decentralization of knowledge, we can acquire the education to be successful without a traditional college education and, at the same time, find good jobs that don’t require traditional college degrees. The infrastructure for this type of system is already being built, and the disruption of the traditional university system has begun.

Why we won’t need college

Have you ever watched a how-to video on YouTube? Or searched Wikipedia for an article on a topic you didn’t quite understand? These are simple examples of how the Internet has decentralized knowledge over the past 20 years. Imagine if we could extend these examples to replace an entire college education.

Massive open online courses (“MOOCs”) like Udacity and Kahn Academy, which give you the tools to educate yourself for free, are building the infrastructure for this new system. If you question the quality of the education you can get from MOOCs, organizations like Dev Bootcamp provide apprentice-like experience for much less than a college degree.

If these non-traditional options are too risky for you, there are more traditional options available to you that avoid an expensive college degree and still give you access to a good middle-class job.

The main reason most of us don’t take advantage of this type of education is because most employers don’t accept it. Lucky for you, the employment infrastructure suited for this type of education is being created, too.

Are you a computer programmer? Apple gives you access to millions of customers through its App Store. Are you an author? Amazon has a platform for independent publishers. Are you a film buff who dreams of producing videos? YouTube lets you do that.

Many of these options are still unproven, and the path won’t be easy for the early adopters. There’s a lot of risk in self-employment, and there are questions about the quality of MOOCs. But, with rising college costs and stagnating wages, we’re not being given much choice. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. The opportunity is there for you.

You just need to grab it.

Brent Ritter is a Chicago-based writer and a recovering financial professional. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.


  1. jrandom421

    Interesting idea. too bad it won’t work for Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. Not very many people are able to learn advanced math, science or engineering on their own

    • Brent Ritter

      I would argue that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math will be the first to implement this new structure of learning. In fact, Khan Academy already has courses in Calculus, Physics, and Organic Chemistry.

      If you look at a traditional college-level Calculus course, for instance, the majority of your learning time is spent doing problems in the textbook and studying the problems/solutions until you gain an understanding. Very little learning occurs by sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture. You learn by doing.

      What’s stopping you from cutting out the lecture and the tuition cost by downloading the course syllabus, buying the textbook, and doing the problems on your own? At the same time, what if there was a internet forum of other people trying to learn the same object where you could ask questions on the areas where you got stuck? There are forums for computer programming (, etc) that already perform this function. In that scenario, you wouldn’t have to learn on your own but you would still be bypassing the traditional college education. As I mentioned in the post, the tools are out there.

      • jrandom421

        It simply means you’ve got a great deal more self discipline than most people.
        How long do you think most people will stick with self study of advanced math, science and engineering-all on their own?

        • Brent Ritter

          If the the opportunity for self-employment is there, people move towards this type of education. History has always shown that people go to where the jobs are. This was true when we moved from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy. A traditional college education wasn’t typical until the post-war manufacturing boom.

          It’s hard for people to stick with self-study because they are using tools and infrastructure built for traditional classroom learning. As time goes by, more and more tools will be created to facilitate self-study. These tools will likely place an emphasis on engagement since, as you mention, most won’t have the discipline to study on their own.

          Restructuring curriculums around requiring the student to complete daily/weekly exams instead of completing an exam once every two months, for example, would increase engagement. We also need to shift from a lecturing environment to a more hands-on environment. Lectures typically aren’t engaging, interactive projects are. This is what tools like Udacity are moving towards and what a lot of the online graduate programs being offered through universities look like.

          • jrandom421

            Tell you what: If you can go from basic arithmetic to third order differential equations purely through self-study and online resources, More power to you. If you can do advanced mechanical engineering without a hands on advanced lab, I’d like to see it. If you can do advanced scientific research strictly from what you learned online, I’d like to have your work peer reviewed by peers from major research universities.
            Restructuring curriculums is going to help, but nothing is going to replace the time it takes to learn something well and correctly, as well as having knowledgeable professors to teach and explain it when you can’t wrap your mind around the concepts.

          • Brent Ritter

            You’re missing the point of the post. The title was “Why We Won’t Need College…” not “Why College Won’t Exist…” and the purpose was to provide alternative education paths that produce middle-class jobs. As I mention in another comment, the top universities will continue as they have for the past 100+ years (300+ for Harvard & Yale) because they can effectively differentiate their product from their competitors.

            Keep in mind that self-employment in the US has dropped from 25% of non-farm employment in 1950 to 7% today (per the BLS) and one reason for that is too many people assume that a traditional college education and corporate employment is the only way to go. This is also one of the reasons behind rising tuition costs (i.e. demand). In reality, though, there are plenty of self-employment options and ways that you can adequately educate yourself to take advantage of these opportunities. As I stated in the post, the infrastructure is already being built to fuel this system.

            To take the argument of lower reliance of a traditional college education further, the goal of top universities isn’t to be a funnel of talent to corporate employers. They have their own priorities (research probably being the top priority for most). Preparing students for corporate employment is largely a by-product of whatever their top priority is and, as a result, corporate employers complain that new grads aren’t adequately prepared for the working world. At some point, somebody will find a way to better fulfill corporate employers needs and do it for less time and money. This will provide yet another alternative to a traditional college education.

            Regardless, I’ll address your points. Advanced scientific research and peer reviews of this research are more a part of graduate school work, not undergrad, so that’s beyond the scope of this post (but those are valid points as to why universities won’t go away entirely). For undergraduate programs, a lab environment can be addressed much like remote test proctoring is addressed today. A third party could establish proctored labs across the country so students of Udacity classes, for instance, would have access to a laboratory environment. As for knowledgeable professors in undergraduate programs, you likely won’t have the opportunity to study under one today in a class of less than 100 until your senior year (junior year, if you’re lucky). It’s far more common for you to have a graduate student teaching the material. A student teacher could easily be replaced by establishing a system of community learning where your peers help you understand the material. In fact, a lot of online graduate programs already do this and, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, this works surprisingly well on programming forums like stackoverflow. There’s also the added bonus of the question being recorded for posterity so that future students can reference it though, say, a Google search.

          • christianmonk

            One name: Eric Snowden who ultimately got to work for the NSA. How many people with degrees never got to work there. Many virtuoso engineering inventors never attend formal schools and the same for musicians. Dr. John Henrick Clarke taught 2 generations of children before he pursued his Bachelors, masters and Ph.D. Yes, I want to return to college but the emphasis should always be on learning by doing and not just reading. I cannot stand reading computer programming books but love to write code. That is how I taught myself computers.

            Also, lets face it,20% of students drop out due to POOR TEACHING or what I call bullshit teaching. My mentor a graduate course at NYU and showed students a short film on the Internment of Japanese during WW2. One black student in class became very angry because she felt her education was inadequate because she was never taught about this terrible period of history. Whereas for me, with no degree, always read books, watch documentaries, articles, blogs, and am more educated than typical college graduates because I diversify my education to develop a world perspective. It was this pathetic type of education in history (my love) where teachers spoke 10 minutes about slavery (Mr. Ketchum, this is NOT a black studies class) that motivated me to drop out and educate myself because students AND professors were not reading the types of books that I found my historical truths in. There were so many times I wanted to tie up the teacher and teach the course myself because history is not about the victors who wrote it but about how people were oppressed by those who celebrated it. I miss you Howard Zinn (The People’s History of the United States). I wish I could have had such a teacher who was kicked out of a historically black college early in his teaching career.

            We need an education that matters and not the bullshit that calls itself education. John Taylor Gatto (Dumbing Us Down) I love you man. I can keep throwing the books that were not part of my college curriculum such as the Falsification of AFrican Consciousness by Dr. Amos Wilson which taught me how black power was neutralized and how to get it back in BLUEPRINT FOR BLACK POWER. These books will never be taught in schools but I am more educated because of them.

            Education is about power

      • christianmonk

        You are so freaking right. I went through three, count them, three industries during the past decade. Information technology, paralegal, real estate and finally non-profit counseling/administration. I returned from overseas (ok I was in prison) in 1999 and studied info technology and became a network tech, then went to Baruch College to become a paralegal when word processing jobs were on the decline, then acquired my real estate license while recuperating from knee surgery in 2006, but when the market crashed and corporate law firms started laying off support staff in 2009, I studied the labor market, and discovered that when unemployment increases, so does the use of alcohol/drugs and their associated social problems with abuse. This convinced me to pursue a career in the behavioral health industry which is where I am today. I invested my time on internships where I learned the nuts and bolts of working in this industry and finally landed a great job hired by my mentor who I have interned with since 2010.

        I do not possess any bachelors or master’s degree but am a graduate of Malcolm X University (think about that one)which has served me very well. I make in the mid fifties and continue to pursue free education in this industry where I will return to complete college and have finished my required 350 CASAC hours (Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor) for certification, which I also obtained a scholarship for by a very loving pastor whose school has closed recently (Love you Pastor Ferrand). Realize I am only attending college in order to be able to sign my name on particular documents that require higher education such as a CASAC or Masters in Public Health.

        I told my best friend when he got his girlfriend pregnant a 2nd time, to quit trying to finish engineering at CCNY where he lost his scholarship due to the need to work, and pursue a career as a water treatment plant tech and he packed up his bags in the Bronx and relocated to Hollywood, Florida where he currently works making in the mid fifties and lives with his now wife and 2 kids.

        Colleges are money making mills for professors and the power elite. I firmly believe that my little St. Patrick’s Long Island City elementary school education to the fourth grade, St. Barnabas in Alameda, CA fourth grade education, Luling Elementary School 5-6th grade education, Edgar Allen Poe 7th-9th Grade education as an honor student was all I needed to develop a passion for learning and cultivate my ability to master information. Earlier this week, I went to my high school website and was blown away by their vision statement:

        G.W. Brackenridge High School is dedicated to graduating all students as empowered, community-minded, college-ready students who think innovatively, reason logically, and contribute as 21st Century globally-competent citizens.

        What a vision statement. If all high schools empowered their students to become community minded, college competitive globally competent citizens, there would be little need for overpriced universities. We still need doctors, engineers, architects at colleges, but for the rest of us, there has to be a better way. I wasted over $10K when I attended a state university but dropped out when my father passed away and I had to take care of his estate. This state university did not refund me nor did they ask me to return the next semester after I took a leave of absence without charge. They are such blood suckers and this is why this country is in the state it is in. There is very little value in modern education because if the education had value, then why is this country in economic decline?

        Colleges do not have answers. They have failed us. Milton Friedman’s theories were a fraud. Why haven’t we done so much better? Capitalism under the current system is destroying all resources on this planet. It doesn’t take a college education to know this. When a junior high school Canadian student illustrates how radiation has contaminated most fish coming from the West coast when the Canadian government has not, this is proof that the education system is worthless.

        Being in my mid fifties, I can now shut up the mouth’s of most professors in my area of expertise. This is due to my education AND experience applying what I have learned. Thank you Mommy and Dad for giving me the best education I could ever get and that is mostly in Catholic school. The Jesuit’s knew what they were doing when they said: “give me a child when they are young and we will make then………..etc…”. You know what I mean. The best education is always the first one because that determines where you will go in life.

    • Mary Isabale

      totally agreed, one can boost himself through self skill but every thing need a base.

  2. Why We Won’t Need College in 15 Years | T...

    […] Some things outlive their usefulness. Here are a few reasons a traditional college education might be one of them.  […]

  3. Minecraft

    Wow, quite a new perspective. I think the school 15 years or not it is not all. You may or may not be, it is necessary to learn where the time for you to do the best I could.

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  5. Career Coach,

    I’ve heard this argument in a few different places before.

    While I agree that technology makes self-education and entrepreneurship viable, I am less certain that the tradition of college will become obsolete in the near future. It will be interesting to see!

    • Brent Ritter

      I agree that a traditional college education won’t totally go away but I think that higher education is a market ripe for disruption. When a market is disrupted, it typically happens at the low end so the top universities will still continue to successfully differentiate themselves from the competition. The Harvards of the world likely won’t be affected. On the other hand, the universities who don’t provide the same value but have high tuition rates likely won’t be able to maintain the status quo.

      I think the early adopters of this system will mostly be entrepreneurs but, eventually, corporate employers will become more open to it. Right now there’s a lack of alignment between universities and corporate employers. Most employers are looking for candidates with a specialized education whereas universities are more focused on providing a broad, well-rounded education. Eventually someone will find a way to work with corporate employers to develop a very-focused curriculum that will produce qualified candidates in half the time of a traditional college education. If you can get the buy-in of corporate employers, the disruption will really take off.

      • Guest

        Good. I’d prefer G.M. University to some pointless philosophy class that isn’t going to mean squat on my resume. If it turns out that nobody reads philosophy because they didn’t have to in college, then that’s the way the cookie crumbles — or the free market works, I guess. Obviously there wasn’t an organic demand for Plato, just a forced one in the current market of involuntary “well-roundedness” that most students bullsh*t their way through and copy their papers from Wikipedia anyway. Get rid of the stupid liberal arts and tailor education to JOBS.

  6. AxelDC

    College is not about stuffing your head with content. We had newspapers back in what you cite as the golden days of college, but people still needed schooling to understand it.

    Just being able to Google a subject does not mean mastery. Far more important than the course content, which is easily forgotten, are the writing, analysis and research skills required. College is far more than sitting through lectures. The real value comes from the assignments, especially groupwork.

    I suppose you could gain those skills on the job if A) someone would hire you, B) that employer would spend the money to train you. That defies the current trends in hiring and cost-cutting in industry. It also limits you to the job you actually get. I’ve known several people get jobs that normally require degrees and do well without one, but they have a very difficult time moving on or getting promoted. Even if you are lucky to get an employer who will invest in your skills, you will be hard pressed to find one that invests in your skills for your next position.

    • Brent Ritter

      “We had newspapers back in what you cite as the golden days of college, but people still needed schooling to understand it.”

      The education required to read and comprehend a newspaper relates more to a high school education which is beyond the scope of this post.

      “The real value comes from the assignments, especially groupwork.”

      The majority of the assignments (think weekly & daily assignments) come from textbooks. As you allude to, universities are shifting more and more towards group-based learning which shifts the “teacher” role away from the professors and more towards your peers. Why can’t this be replicated in an online forum environment? You’re practicing the writing, analysis, and (I assume) the research right now by posting.

      “I suppose you could gain those skills on the job if A) someone would hire you, B) that employer would spend the money to train you.”

      This is a good point. There was a study a few years back that said students show no academic gains in their first two years of college…

      …what if you spent 2 of your 4 college years doing an internship? The cost of training you would be offset by the effect of your relatively low cost to the employer. Employers typically favor candidates who show they can do the job over unproven candidates.

      “I’ve known several people get jobs that normally require degrees and do well without one, but they have a very difficult time moving on or getting promoted”

      True. This goes back to my statement about how to employers won’t accept anything other than a traditional college education. If you consider higher education to be a business market and look at the potential disruption of this market in the context of the diffusion of innovations theory, employers would be categorized in the late-majority/laggards group. This means it would take longer for them to accept this change but doesn’t necessarily mean it wouldn’t happen.

  7. Yitka Winn

    Sorry to see so many contrarian comments here! Thank you, Brent, for a terrific overview of the shift that is happening in the world of higher education. Anya Kamenetz has explored many of these concepts, too, in her books ‘Generation Debt’ and ‘DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education’ ( ), for anyone who’s interested in exploring these ideas more. In many (not all, of course) job fields these days, I’d argue the skills most in demand are ones just as easily developed at no financial cost via self-education, a few good books, a social network of intellectually stimulating peers, entrepreneurship or other leadership opportunities outside of a classroom setting as they are on a college campus to the tune of $50K/year.

    • Guest

      I don’t care about intellectual stimulation. For that I can watch PBS or, heck, Jeopardy. A degree in Trivial Pursuit is just that, a trivial pursuit. All high schools in the United States should become voc-tech schools, and higher education should be a source of job training, not navel-gazing. It’s high time people learn what’s relevant to the JOB market and stop plunking down $50K (and up) a year to read Plato and engage in feminist man-hating.

  8. M. Tonu N.

    Bil Gates noted, “The ideal there is creating a
    skills-based credential that is well trusted and well understood enough
    that employers view it as a true alternative to a degree.”

    Could this skills-based credential system along with Massive
    Open Online Courses (
    be among the game changers in our self-perpetuating elitist and often
    impractical out of touch higher education system that often forces
    inexperienced young students to choose uncertain career/education paths
    leaving them without practical employable skills and with massive amount
    of debt?

  9. Shona

    I don’t agree. There is a big difference in having access to information, and going after that information and mastering it. Professors are supposed to be experts in their field. You need them to initially instruct, guide and then certify your competence on a subject. Also, I do not see employers moving quickly on to the bandwagon of not requiring a formal college degree as a prerequisite to professional positions.

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    This article is really good. We pursue the study of obscure professional practice and the unknown future stars

  12. Nayna

    hi I’ve heard this argument in a few different places before.

    While I agree that technology makes self-education and entrepreneurship viable, I am less certain that the tradition of college will become obsolete in the near future. It will be interesting to see! icareeradvice

  13. jowannapeterso

    Na… Don’t agree. I have done well ( as has my daughter ) from not only the classes, but becoming international-meeting people world class knowledge. The price is outrageous but oh well, it paid off for me.

  14. friv 2 friv 3 friv 4

    Wow, quite a new perspective.
    I think the school 15 years or not it is not all. You may or may not
    be, it is necessary to learn where the time for you to do the best I


  15. friv yepi

    Oh Yes! I’m glad I found your article today. I recommend it to everyone …

  16. friv 250

    Very interesting and very funny.

  17. Vita Prattes

    Interesting theory, but you can’t learn people skills and working in teams – not to mention networking with other scholars that may further your education and future career – on Google. This theory would prompt a bunch of hermits that though, may be smart, probably have antisocial and anxiety problems from fear of failure.

    • Guest

      Social skills have nothing to do with MOOCs. That’s not the point. You should learn people skills from day one when you’re born. Nobody gives a sh*t about networking with “scholars” if they won’t help you get a job. That’s the only reason you should be networking: to advance your PROFESSIONAL career, not your encyclopedic knowledge of Babylonian mythology that makes you a hit at cocktail parties. Go to a Toastmasters meeting or, heck, go to a bar (and then an AA meeting) if you want to meet people. College is not for “networking.” See how fast your useless credentials in genderqueer literature make you Employee of the Month at Wal-Mart. Meanwhile, meaningful people will be learning trades or becoming doctors to save your sorry behind from starvation when the food stamps run out. Hope you like fries with that intellectual prowess. Meanwhile, I’m on my way to a community college to train for my MCSE. That’s Microsoft Certified Software Engineer. Not “Master’s of Contemporary Socialist Existentialism.” And pull BANK fixing networks so that the “college educated” can jabber about Jane Austen on Goodreads.

  18. Ignazio Dedica

    It doesn’t seems to me a very good approach to all middle-class job.
    Assume you are accused of murder in Texas: would you ask for a lawyer with an online degree at the Online University of Whatever, or would you rather go for a real-degreed, well-read and well-learned lawyer from a real University or College?
    Assume you have brain cancer: which one would you choose, the physician from the Internet College of Wonderland, or the neuro-surgeon from a normal college?
    Who would you rather see teaching your kids, or doing your taxes? somebody who has extensive (and expensive) degrees, or some nerd that nobody ever evaluated in person?

    • Guest

      It’s not about being a lawyer or a doctor and getting training from Wikipedia or U of Phoenix. That would be ridiculous. It’s about the useless degrees like English or History that people overspend on — $200 on average for a textbook and $1,500-$3,000 on average for a single class — when they could get the same content for free from the Internet. The STEM degrees are suitable for college instruction (finance and accounting are considered “maths” degrees). But any monkey can read Shakespeare or Plato in his spare time. Liberal arts is a bunch of overpriced navel-gazing junk.

      • Ignazio Dedica

        I don’t remember the article anymore, so I’m just going to answer to you about the argumentation you brought in your comment

        Although we can agree on the point that Most of the English and History degrees are useless (and I say that being pretty much an overstretched italian historian(but again, we don’t have expensive taxes on University)) you cannot disagree with me in noticing how the younger mind have to be taught how to think and how to study.
        And because you cannot impose to a 11-years-old to study the constitution of the USA or the most complex chemical element of the brain, you will have to make them start with something a little bit easier, that could be a training and an exercise for the days in which he or she will have to study long nights in anatomopatology.

        Who is going to teach him or her How to study?
        would you choose your son’s professor between people to whom nobody taught?

  19. Alex

    Very poignant, and true. My only argument is that we should consider the individual’s needs and skill-set, which can be more focused in schools depending on the quality of teaching. Yes the internet is vastly more accessible for the most part, but to really access the world of knowledge it can in some ways only be done in a classroom environment. The world is changing though, I agree. And for older teenagers now it’s more about finding independence, which previously thought can only be achieved through school/college/university. And they produce debt.
    I say free education for everyone! …If only.

    • Guest

      So what if there are no new graduates in comparative literature or dead languages. Big deal. Education in this economy of scarcity and overpopulation should — no, MUST — have a positive ROI. Unless your last name is Bush (in which case reading isn’t your strong suit anyway), education shouldn’t be about personal enrichment. It should be about job training. Personal enrichment can be done at the library or walking through a park. Predatory student loan lenders are guilty of the same thing the predatory mortgage lenders did when the housing market crashed in 2007: giving people loans that they were never going to be able to pay back, and then leaving the taxpayers on the hook for the balance. Majoring in English is going to land you in perpetual debt with nothing but a burger-flipping job or a “career” milking the welfare dime. I say, if you can’t cut it in college getting a STEM degree, then your only option should be trade school. Not taking out $150,000 to read Shakespeare or engage in feminist man-hating. I dropped out of a women’s studies class when I realized it wasn’t the same as Home Ec.

      Wikipedia offers the same content of these Jeopardy degrees and for FREE.

  20. Followgram

    Thank you for good article.

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  23. marouanerossi

    Very great article ”

    Why We Won’t Need College in 15 Years
    ” . Thanks for this post
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  24. Adam Daniel

    I think a better title might have been ‘Why college won’t be essential in the future’. Yes new technology is opening up new career paths for some people but then it has always done so (you don’t see many coal-merchants or chimney sweeps in the yellow pages these days…if you even use the yellow pages any more)

    My Masters education didn’t just give me ‘knowledge’ it taught me the skills of critical thinking, reflective practice and task focussed discipline. Those skills I wouldn’t have picked up on Youtube whilst others might have been born with these skills, but such naturally gifted people are rare in my experience.

    However there is a massive assumption in this piece that college educations will not adapt to include decentralised information (and the knowledge of how to continually acquire it) and processes to utilise that in the curriculum, mine did (I achieved my under and post gradulate qualifications mostly online).

    So in this comment I critically assessed the piece of work, surfaced some underlying assumptions and delivered a reasoned critique, all essential skills in a senior level career and ones that I personally couldn’t have fully developed without a college education.

    • Guest

      I hope you got your degree in something useful, like an MBA, an MBA, or… an MBA. Not unemployable “personal enrichment” crap like English, History, Philosophy or anything ending in *-ology. One cannot philosophy for a living, and nobody needs a master’s degree in bullsh*t like Postmodern Literature or Genderqueer Studies. I think a more appropriate angle to take is that college is irrelevant and obsolete for everything BUT the STEM disciplines and finance/econ/whatever Wall Street hedge fund managers majored in (certainly not “ethics”). Plunking down six figures to read Proust doesn’t mean you’re a genius. On the contrary, it makes the “graduate” look like an idiot, no matter what his/her GPA was.

      Caveat emptor. Hope you like fries with that.

  25. How to land your dream job — even if you don’t know what it is yet | Idealist Careers

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  26. Alan Edwards

    MOOCs are, in my opinion a great way to expand your knowledge and make friends and contacts across the world. I have taught distance learning in a well-known accredited school. My class size averaged twenty students and giving each one personal attention over the Internet, across time zones was difficult.

    Recently, I took a class on writing that had nearly 43,000 students from almost country in the world. Language problems and time zone alignment made it difficult if not impossible for students to have any direct access with faculty.

    Today, MOOC credits are useless and not transferable though you might get a certificate from the instructor or the institution.

    Nevertheless, MOOC is free, classes are at exceptionable schools and can be taken to learn more about your career, the world economy your business competes in or you can take a course to expand your knowledge in an area that you are curious about. Fine art to nanotechnology there is a course for everyone.

    But, I think college and grad school will remain essential for a long while.

  27. buddyzap

    If any one want to learn anything then no need of any collage, schools, in the own self, everyone. If they want to really learn then they try own best..

  28. Arvi

    Nice Concept…However, I do think that College life is necessary for the mental growth…and it also produces the best days of our lives…isn’t that true??

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    Galaxy Reporter

  29. Davis

    The biggest obstacle to decentralized knowledge for science is the number of cutting edge to not so cutting edge research article stuck behind pay walls. While there is an increase in open access to articles it is still not enough to allow for an easy dissemination of all new findings. Though I do agree with jrandom421 that higher level math is best taught within a structured setting, but this is where things like coursera could take over on a certain level. Of course, the next biggest obstacle is the level of qualification a degree gives a person even if that person is less skilled than a self-taught person.



  30. Melanie Duppins

    I strongly disagree with this premise (and I’m not even a STEM major). As a student who had a less-than-ideal elementary and middle school education and a mediocre high school education, I am certain that college “polished” me to succeed in the workforce in a way that MOOCs couldn’t have. The exposure to our college writing center, in-person classes where I interacted with professors and students, and the 4 year time period where I could take on paid internships, clubs, etc. to round out my experience was critical. No online experience could have had the same impact. Now, eight years into my career, I can see the difference college made and can’t imagine a set of distance courses would have done the same.

  31. Travis Doherty

    I think you could touch more on the idea of networking. Certainly the old saying about “who you know” should be in this discussion, right?

    Sure, online courses work. Maybe not perfectly – but maybe they could in the future. I believe that being in the same physical space to learn a topic comes to interaction. Maybe this is even more important for social and liberal arts than maths. I could be biased since I studied Economics and can talk about things like employee scheduling and unemployment and so on for hours… But that’s the point – talking about it requires the social interaction. You can’t replace that with an online forum.

    A safe mix is the best bet. Learn on your own for everything you can. For the things you can’t do on your own you get help. When you need to be in a group setting, find one.

  32. Betsy

    I’ve been looking for more of these topics and actually I’m also writing about the future education. Teaching will be simpler and complex. Today a teacher teaches a class of 50, in future it’ll be near about 5000. That’s what gonna make the difference.
    Nice article.

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