Could Alternative Education Replace College?

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A college education has long held the place of being the ticket to achieving success in the professional workforce. However, as the times change, attaining that degree comes at a hefty price. With rising tuition costs, a competitive job market, and less than desirable entry-level jobs, there has been a strong call for alternative education. 

The average in-state cost for tuition hovers just shy of $30,000, but that figure dramatically jumps to $40,000+ for out-of-state and private universities. The average student debt in California is $22,785, and with interest rates, many students find themselves paying off student loans for years to come after graduating. 

With the prospect of a potentially debt-saddled future, many are turning to credential based learning that can be accomplished online through a variety of sources. Many of the skills and knowledge students learn while earning a four-year degree are no longer exclusive to the classroom. 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Modern college curriculums don’t delve into the minutiae of a student’s selected major until the later years of their education. While the reason behind this is so students can develop a well-rounded education, when there are thousands of dollars being paid per semester, this time is sometimes seen as a waste when students can be focusing on developing skills necessary for their desired careers. 

Nowadays, people are turning to digital sources of learning like edX, Coursera, Udemy, and even YouTube. Thanks to a thriving online learning community, you can learn just about any skill through alternative sources, and oftentimes, upon completion of a course, you can receive accreditation. Known as the “shadow learning economy,” these alternative education pioneers are transforming the way we learn. 

Before, a degree was essentially a permission slip that would allow you to compete for attractive jobs in the workforce. Now, employers are looking at more than just the school you went to or what you’re degree is in. Careers can be developed off of apprenticeships, studying with a mentor, or learning in action through applicable practice of skills. 

While a traditional education may still be here to stay, for the time being, prospective students have the opportunity to develop their skills, knowledge, and desired career through alternative means. With the growing student loan crisis continuing to burden the young professionals of this country, I wouldn’t be surprised if more turn to alternative means of education to further their lives. 

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