Disruptions in Higher Education

According to Jeffrey Selingo in College Unbound there are five disruptions in education. The first disruption is a “a sea of red ink” meaning colleges are discounting the tuition at extremely high rates and then failing to attract enough students who will make up the difference (i.e pay full tuition)

The second disruption is “the disappearing state in public higher education” meanings that state governments are disinvesting and not funding state colleges at the rate that they used to. States are also raising tuition for their colleges. The problem here is that originally states would pay a significant portion of resident’s tuition and out-of-state students would pay full tuition, but that is quickly becoming obsolete.

The third disruption is “the well of full paying students is running dry” This focuses on a point that the other disruptions touched upon. The amount of students who can afford to pay full tuition without any aid is rapidly declining. This is problematic because before, those students were counted on to help balance out the debt and costs; however, more and more people are in need of financial help, which puts a greater burden on colleges. This is troublesome for liberal arts colleges in particular as the number of students who can pay full tuition and the number of students who choose to go to small, private, liberal arts colleges is very small and very worrying.

The fourth disruption is “the unbundled alternatives are improving.” This force is about how there are increasing numbers of alternative means of getting an education that do not include college. The book uses Khan Academy as an example. Khan academy is a free online tutoring website that one could argue gives people the information they need to know to compete with those who do have college degrees and it costs nothing. Technology has created brand new ways of educating society and people begin to question if college is really that important or if it’s just what is expected, or what is traditional. If one can get an education that prepares them for the job market and makes them a competitive candidate without getting a degree then what is the point of going to college?

The fifth disruption is “the growing value gap” which is simply the fact that a degree’s worth is decreasing at a steady rate. Degrees mean less than they did now than in any other time in history because people are questioning if they’re worth it and if the value of the degree is equivalent to the money and time spent at college.

I think these disruptions are real and important. However, I think until going to college becomes unlearned as a societal norm then people will still find a way to pay and colleges will find a way to keep operating. If going to college becomes less of a societal expectation and pre-requisite, then I think higher education would be truly and severely disrupted.


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