DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
by Anya Kamenetz Author
We've all heard it: "I'm just taking this class to get 'that piece of paper.'" Or, "It will sure be worth it when I get 'that piece of paper.'" As graduate students attest, much of university life is little more than a 'degree mill.' And there lies the problem. "How," the author asks, "can we justify our faith in college education when there is little or no evidence that the ever-increasing price is worth the ever-diminishing returns?"
The first half of the book is Kamenetz's explanation of the history, sociology, and economics of "college for all" hopes and how they've ironically led to a very tiered system. The intention of getting more people to college with Pell Grants, the GI Bill and other government subsidies led to a work force that was 'graduate' hungry and rising prices in college costs. This makes a situation where making money demands going to college while fewer and fewer can afford to—a college degree is of value not because of the education it provides, but the fact that one
go to stay competitive with others.
But is it financially worth it? Kamenetz says we are long past that point, detailing studies which show that the price of college and the debt it leads to is not matched by the economic gains one can expect. As she puts it, the trade-off is only worth it if one is of the means to do it without incurring huge debt, which most aren't. Maybe there are other options.
And there are. Community college, tech schools, online universities, etc, are looked on with disdain by the ivory tower academy. And in this day and age, it is becoming easier to learn on one's own using tools like google books, itunes university, youtube/edu, and many, many other sources.We have to be open to new models of higher education because the ones we have aren't doing the job.
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