According to Selingo, there are five main problems facing education: schools are making poor financial decisions, few can afford a college education, online schools are becoming more popular, less gov’t investment in higher education, and a decrease in value of a college degree. From the perspective of the student, the most pressing issue is being able to afford tuition. The vast majority of students would rather have a face-to-face education at an established college or university than an online education. Cost is the only deciding variable when choosing between traditional and online education, making the problems of tuition and rise of online courses part of the same problem.
From my perspective, if online education (or any other type of lower-cost education) delivers the same results as a traditional education, then online education is the better alternative. I’m not dead-set on preserving traditional brick and mortar colleges and universities if they become irrelevant. For too long, traditional colleges and universities have engaged in practices that add cost and have nothing to do with the type of education students receive (ex. sports, investments to increase school ranking, giant amount of administrators, luring “star” professors, etc.), so there won’t be any lost feelings for a system that grew too big and lost focus of the main goal. Of course, if it turns out that there are key benefits to a traditional education that make it worth the trouble of preserving them, then they should be preserved. I believe that there are a couple of areas where online schools will have trouble competing with traditional colleges. Mainly lab work and other hands-on learning and student research. My proposal (which I’ll talk more about in my essay) is that there is a middle ground between lower-cost education and the benefits of a traditional education. If students could take intro, survey, general requirement, and other lower-level courses online or in a community college setting, and then finish their last year or two doing lab work or research (if needed for the particular student) at a traditional college. This would potentially cut the cost of education from the student’s perspective by at least 40-50%. This new system would also let the college and university system shrink in size and become the focused system that it used to be.