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Tradition or Technology?

If the customer really is always right, colleges and universities have some adapting to do. Because of the growing number of alternatives to a traditional four-year college path, colleges and universities must begin catering to the changing needs of students. In this blog we’re exploring the idea of power shifting from universities to students.

If you’ve read our blog you know that I always drive home the point of increasing college tuition. With national student loan debt accumulating at $3,000 per second, many students are searching for alternatives to the traditional four-year colleges. Students are opting for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and nanodegrees because these options are far less expensive and more customized degrees that are more in tune with the recruiting needs of major employers. Nanodegrees are not only less expensive, but they provide employers with candidates with the workplace skills needed to thrive. CEOs often find “recent graduates as lacking the skills and discipline required in today’s workplace” and would rather they “grow up on someone else’s payroll.” MOOCs and certain online degrees allow students adjust and customize their degree path at a much lower price in terms of both time and money.

If MOOCs are a cheaper and faster options why would anyone choose a traditional degree? Two answers: 1.) MOOCs don’t provide degrees. As it turns out, most students go to college to earn a degree. Shocker? Not really. Kevin Carey, of the New York Times, put it best,

“traditional college degrees represent several different kinds of information. Elite universities run admissions tournaments as a way of identifying the best and the brightest. That, in itself, is valuable data. It’s why ‘Harvard dropout’ and ‘Harvard graduate’ tell the job market almost exactly the same thing: ‘This person was good enough to get into Harvard.’”

2.) Online learning doesn’t work for everyone. The dropout figure for MOOCs is 90%, which is exacerbated by the lack of structure surrounding courses. Experts argue that the drop-out rates don’t matter when evaluating the quality of the MOOCs, rather the quality can be measured by the amount of students who engaged with the course and the amount of students who pass. When gauging whether or not students are ready to move away from traditional learning, the dropout rate speaks for itself.

While MOOCs have yet to take over the world, traditional colleges and university have time to find possible solutions. Whether it’s offering customizable degrees like Arizona State University’s online MBA program or collaborating on curriculum with employers, universities and colleges need a solution before they’re forced to raise their white flags to their online competitors.

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