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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This Is The Future Of College

Follow on Twitter as @JessHullinger
Jessica Hullinger, freelance journalist who covers innovation, tech, and science reports, "It's not the death of higher education, but college as we've known it will be forced to undergo some dramatic changes in the next decade."

Photo: Fast Company

The college experience has been roughly the same for the last 100 years: You pick a major, find a school, buy the books, attend the lectures, write the papers, take the tests, get the grades, graduate, work to pay off debt.

For years, college was the best pathway to a job. But as costs continue to rise and the percentage of graduates finding work falls, students are beginning to wonder: What’s the real value of a college education?

"Charging people lots of money to provide them with skills they could learn from an Internet video is probably not gonna be a viable long-term financial model," says Richard Miller, president of Olin College of Engineering. "Knowledge is now a commodity. It’s really inexpensive and easy to get. Who’s gonna pay you for that? So now we’re in the process of changing."

But changing how?

Experts say that within the next 10 to 15 years, the college experience will become rapidly unbundled. Lecture halls will disappear, the role of the professor will transform, and technology will help make a college education much more attainable than it is today, and much more valuable. Indeed, a number of institutions may shut down. But those that survive will be innovative and efficient. Here’s what they’ll look like.

A Focus On Skills, Not Semesters 
For college students today, success is measured in credit hours. Time spent in the classroom, reading, attending lectures, taking tests, all done with the hope of a passing grade. But all the credit hours in the world don’t guarantee students actually learn anything applicable in the workplace, and employers know this all too well. "I can’t tell you how many times I hear clients say, ‘I just can’t find the right person for this job, and I can’t go to colleges because the students don’t have the innate competency,’" says Michael Maciekowich, national director of HR consulting firm Astron Solutions, LLC. "In our business, there’s a competency required that is not learned in school."

Indeed, in one survey, 60% of employers complained that job applicants lack interpersonal and communication skills. They can pass a calculus exam, but they can’t identify or solve problems on the job, or negotiate, or lead a meeting. For the college students of tomorrow, these soft skills, obtained through hands-on experiences, will be the yardstick for learning, not how many credit hours or semesters you have under your belt.

Source: Fast Company