Are Colleges Necessary?


If you rethink your education these days, rest assured – you are not alone. With a global pandemic, unprecedented student debt, a “grand resignation” and uncertain economic outlook – more people than ever are questioning their career path and the education required to make it there.

Amid all this uncertainty, a question arises: is a college degree really worth it?

Even if it is true that your university degree gives you a raise, the landscape changes radically. The high purchase price of universities, combined with an unpredictable job market and the rise of online training programs have resulted in declining college and university enrollment.

Illustrating an attempt to solve the problem, more than a dozen universities are now experimenting with a “College in 3Which would offer a college diploma in a shorter time, for less. Whatever happens, it is clear that colleges are going to have to transform to adapt to the times.

More than ever, people are questioning their career path and the education required to get there.

The job requires new skills. And then the most recent.

The main reason for this trend, according to Jamie Kohn, research director at technology research firm Gartner, is that “the skills we need are changing so quickly.” According to his data, this is happening so quickly that skills that were relevant in the business world just a few years ago are inapplicable today. Almost a third, 29%, of the skills required in 2018 will no longer be required by 2022 and 26% have already expired.

Not only have skills evolved, but new skills, for new roles, have also been added to the mix.

Companies understand that “lifelong learning is essential,” says Kohn, who focuses on best practices in recruiting strategy and talent attraction, specifically helping clients develop strategies university recruitment. As a result, they invest more in skills training. Even adding a few courses, she says, can make a big difference to job applicants.

Companies are looking for new ways to close this skills gap

“Companies are under increasing pressure to think differently from where they get talent,” Kohn said. “Part of it has been opening up hiring people who don’t have a college degree. “

Drawing on university pools, Kohn also observed that companies struggled to find candidates outside of traditional sources. Clorox, for example, is hosting a regional competition where students from various schools, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Ivies, have the chance to display their skills.

Kohn says companies still struggle to find skills outside of an academic pool – but that is starting to change, “depending on how competitive the job market is today,” she said.

“There is currently a certain window of opportunity for applicants and companies to really change the way they think about finding quality talent,” she said. “What they use as markers of quality is moving away from college degrees by default.”

The high purchase price of universities, combined with an unpredictable job market and the rise of online training programs have resulted in declining college and university enrollment.

Colleges must adapt

The university is becoming overwhelmingly expensive.

Kohn, a first-generation student, grew up hearing of the university as a “differentiator; a catalyst for a change of circumstances. And she still sees the university as “such a status symbol.” However, the exorbitant cost of university today is causing many to rethink this option.

Mabel Okojie, professor of workforce development at Mississippi State University, observed it with her own eyes; many of its students consider the university to be too expensive.

“What I hear from students: ‘college is not for me,’” Okojie said.

Its students struggle to secure growing loans, and many are forced to live with their parents after graduation. If they find a job, their job often does not pay enough to live on, she said. “They ask, ‘Is it necessary? “”

Freeing students from massive debt could also impact the types of careers they choose, Kohn believes. It might cause them to rethink “what commitments they’re willing to make if they don’t have, you know, $ 50,000 or $ 100,000 in student loan debt.”

Solutions for universities?

On top of the price, Okojie believes universities aren’t doing enough to provide students with the skills they need.

Kohn agrees. “Universities have become less relevant for a long time,” she said, as they do not “adequately equip students with the skills necessary to enter the labor market”.

The types of vocational training offered in the private sector could serve as a model for universities, Okojie believes. “Universities should offer courses that help people get to the workplace,” she said.

In addition, Okojie argues that universities could improve themselves by “amplifying their expertise in the things they do better. [than industry], “she said. They could partner with other universities, for example, as many tech companies are doing, to cut costs and provide students with a better quality education.

Universities tend to be responsive, she says. If they took a more active role, offering micro-degrees –– a course or two at a reduced rate –– this might help attract students. Universities could also experiment with learning. “We leave it to the industry to do these things,” she said. Instead, universities should become proactive and come up with their own solutions.

“Universities should offer courses that help people get to the workplace. “

Mabel Okojie

Enter: a new generation of training

Kohn has experienced a “massive increase in training programs.”

Statistics confirm this. Just in the spring of 2021, Coursera enrollment grew from 53 million to 78 million students, an increase of 25 million, greater than the total number of U.S. higher education enrollments. And 58% of job applicants today report taking courses in the past year to learn skills outside of their current job, Kohn said.

According to Kohn, Generation Z workers are “taking charge of their development” – 43% are self-taught for a job they’ve been interviewed for. Plus, compared to other generations, they predict that a “higher percentage of their skills (32%) will expire in the next three years,” she explained.

Beyond Coursera, organizations ranging from museums to tech companies to libraries offer online courses. And tech giants Microsoft and Google together offer more than 75 certificate programs.

Amazon recently made $ 1.2 billion Skills improvement 2025 commitment. Amazon Technical Academy is one of the company’s nine free development programs and helps students secure employment with the company. While some of the participants have degrees, it can also help those who don’t.

One example is Justin Carver, Amazon software development engineer. “I struggled a lot in college, mainly due to a lack of interest in many of the classes needed to graduate,” Carver said. “I often spent more time researching and learning coding than at the university I was paying for.” He did not finish college and was looking for an experience that might match his interests.

Amazon Technical Academy, unlike other programs, according to Carver, “has the ability to directly turn your learning into a career with Amazon. The program placed me on an AWS team for an internship right after graduation. It not only allowed me to grow as a developer but also gave me the opportunity to show my growth and move into a full time position.

Carver acknowledges, “What worked for me might not work for someone else. If you are looking for guidance on a career path, college may be a good fit for you. But if you know what you want to do, or if you can’t find most of the required subjects interesting, then you might be paying for an education that you might never use.

Gen Z is taking their professional development into their own hands, with skills-based training and online education.

Colleges always offer something essential

Despite the popularity of new skills-based training and online education, the university is not going away anytime soon.

Kohn thinks those on the fence should consider the outdoor experiences offered by colleges, from networking to social clubs to labs. These opportunities require the active participation of students. And Okojie believes colleges always offer something unique – especially in disciplines like medicine and law.

But it is the overall experience that she considers most valuable.

“This vast experience is really essential – getting to know different topics, different people, even as a socializing opportunity,” Okojie said. “It’s not going to stop being critical.”

But it’s up to the universities to stay one step ahead. Without students, they will close. And if people stop going to college, she said, “the economy will fail. “It’s not all about work,” Okojie said. “It’s about developing ourselves. It is about having a visionary quality.

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