(as of May 03,2021 19:59:04 UTC – Details)
I’m also not talking about the many extra-curricular activities that accompany a college education–activities, clubs, resources, etc. I’m actually a big fan of these roles that college has come to take on, though I may question the cost at which they’ve come.
There is a paradox in higher education in the United States today. It is discernible at the intersection of two basic, mostly uncontroversial claims: 1. Everything you need to know for a degree is available online for free (if you know what to look for). And 2. The average cost of a college degree is over $100K.
Because of the ubiquity of the internet, and people and organizations who have shared lots of learning and instructional resources, more academic information is available and accessible to you than has ever been to any generation before. So much so that everything you need for a degree in philosophy (and many if not most other degrees) is available for free–if you know what to look for. At the same time, the cost for a typical four-year degree has been continually climbing, now sometimes reaching over $100,000 or even $200,000+.
In light of the changing perceived value of a college degree, and the increasing availability for degree-level learning, this price tag is becoming very difficult to justify.
In this brief introductory book, I won’t go into the reasons that the cost of a degree has been steadily climbing–at a rate outpacing nearly every other U.S. industry, including food, housing, and healthcare, since at least the 1980s–but I will note at least one appalling consequence: the rising cost has resulted in many college graduates leaving school with crippling debt, a burden recognized by many as nothing less than a crisis, with students who have very little ability to pay it back in a timely manner, so the debt load is often much bigger than the original amount borrowed.
The steep increase in price is all the more insulting when the requisite information one needs to master for a degree is free and readily available online.
This takes us to another related confusing aspect in higher ed, and that is the time it takes to earn a degree. If earning a degree really is a matter of demonstrating mastery over a curriculum, why does it take four years to earn a degree? Or, asked more pointedly, why should someone who has already mastered 75% of the degree aims have to sit through the same four years of courses as a student new to the field? A closer look reveals that the time it takes is much more a matter of institutional convenience than a reflection of the time required to demonstrate mastery.
The answer to the paradox is that, though Higher ed has had its teaching and instruction disrupted (through MOOCs, and resources like Khan Academy, etc.), additional institutional dependencies remain. These dependencies explain the paradox of the continual climb of college prices even while the information is increasingly freely available.
In order to properly diagnose and remedy this situation, we must understand the unique offerings and dependencies on higher ed institutions. In order to offer a degree, there are 5 keys or dependencies that must be addressed–though they need not be addressed in the same way as they are in traditional colleges and universities.
This book focuses on what is involved–what are the necessary and sufficient requirements–in earning a degree. After all, you can still get a degree even if you don’t take advantage of the extra-curriculars of a college, but not if you don’t do what’s required to earn the degree. And in this simple contrast lies a world of possibility.