"More than ever, American colleges and universities seem to be in every business but education. They are in the entertainment business, the housing business, the restaurant business, the recreation business, and, on some campuses, they operate what are essentially professional sports franchises." -- page 5
A couple of weeks ago I spotted a letter to the editor in my local newspaper. The writer was highly critical of the federal student loan program. He pointed out that this program essentially lends an 18 year old $100,000 and all too often the student has absolutely no idea what he/she wants to do in life. And as author Jeffrey J. Selingo points out colleges and universities all over American are all too happy to welcome these young people with open arms. But the numbers do not lie. More than 400,000 students drop out of college each year and only 50% of American students who enter college leave with a bachelor's degree. Clearly the system is broken. But breathtaking changes are on the horizon. In "College (Un) Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means For Students" Jeffrey Selingo explains the circumstances that have gotten us to this point and what he calls the "disruptive forces" that have the potential to change everything. In fact it is quite likely that in the future colleges would no longer be the sole provider of a credential. Traditional diplomas might be replaced by something entirely new. It is a fascinating prospect.
The simple fact of the matter is that all too many colleges and universities have priced themselves out of the reach of most American families. In an unprecedented spending spree since 2000 the debt taken on by colleges has doubled to $277 billion. Rather than investing in educational resources most of these schools have built lavish new dormitories, student centers and athletic complexes. With all of these amenities and personalized attention it is no wonder that since the 1970's annual costs at four-year colleges have risen at three times the rate of inflation. Meanwhile on these same campuses top professors are devoting more time to research and less time to the classroom. Parents and students are now scrambling for cost effective alternatives and as you will discover in "College (Un) Bound" the marketplace is responding.
For those who pay attention to these things it is quite apparent that "disruptive" forces have been set in motion that will one day transform the way that higher education is delivered in this nation. The future belongs to the innovative. Jeffrey Selingo discusses a wide array of these options including free massive online open courses (MOOCs), adaptive learning software as well as the unbundling of traditional degree credits. In the future students will have the ability to personalize their plan of study and rather than spending four years on a single campus may actually take courses at a number of different institutions. Community colleges, in conjunction with local and regional businesses, will offer programs designed to quickly train people to fill new jobs. Meanwhile, the traditional colleges will be competing with for-profit colleges, professional organizations, online educational providers, companies and even community groups for students. All of this competition should tend to drive prices down, which is bad news for the more established schools.
Because things are changing at breakneck speed it is essential that students and parents avail themselves of as much information as possible before selecting a college. There is so much to consider. "College (Un) Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means For Students" will provide you with much of this essential information. Jeffrey Selingo has given us a book that is both easy to read and extremely informative. Trust me when I tell you that there are a lot more options available to you than you might think. Highly recommended!
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