I couldn’t resist posting these links. The first is an article by George Leef at Forbes — the headline of which cracks me up. The second link is from the National Center for Policy Analysis — and again the headline is loaded and unsurprising. The last one is from The Federalist and I’ve included my favorite two paragraphs (and its subheading) below that headline/link.
The obvious online solution
Fortunately, the solutions to these problems are as obvious as they are readily available. We live in an age of technology. Communicating information is easy. Of course, pedagogy is more than just a data transfer, but given a little time, today’s technological wizards should be able to develop effective ways of teaching useful subjects through affordable online programs. Young people can then credential themselves from home through targeted programs that will leave them with minimal debt. This idea has given rise to discussions of the “ten thousand dollar degree,” which has been promoted by education-interested figures like Bill Gates, and by politicians like Rick Perry.
If online education can deliver on these promises, it will break the bachelor degree’s hammerlock on the labor market, and the value of a four-year college education will plummet. At present, four-year universities are staying afloat because their degrees are still the admission ticket that enables graduates to be considered for competitive jobs. This works out well for employers so long as bright, ambitious young people continue going to college. Employers can trust undergraduate education to sort out the best prospective hires, and this gives them a cheap and legal way to narrow the field. But if intelligent young people start opting out of the system, employers will have to adapt, for fear of losing valuable talent to competitors. Universities will find themselves scrambling to justify their enormous consumption of resources. They may find that the public is unimpressed.