College is becoming untenably expensive in the United States. Having a college degree means that you are much more likely to find good employment — but tuition and other costs have far outpaced inflation for decades. As the debt required to get an education rises, students and their families face a question: What’s the advantage of a good job if the salary difference is lost to student debt?Read More
Online universities are starting to change this equation. MIT, a pioneer in making course materials available online for free, announced in December that it will begin to offer a credential for completion of online courses through a new program called MITx. The program is intended to offer MIT’s teaching materials to a wide range of students. Though it will carry some costs for students, the university’s press office has stated, “The aim is to make credentialing highly affordable.”
Now, imagine a personnel manager at a mid-sized corporation who’s looking for an employee with some particular knowledge. There are two candidates: one with an appropriate college degree from the local state school, a second with relevant MITx certificates. Let’s say all other things between the candidates are equal. Which should the manager choose?
Given the caliber of professor [sic] at MIT, the online student may have learned just as much. The candidate who went to college probably enjoyed his experience more, but the potential employer is unlikely to care about that. Finally, there’s the financial reality: To some extent, the student debt of the job candidate dictates his salary requirements. If the MITx candidate has the knowledge required and far less student debt, he probably can be hired more cheaply. Ultimately, the cheaper option will win.
Saint's Cafe, State College, Pennsylvania
Follow the link below to learn more about MIT's new online learning initiative.
Also, be sure to visit Saint's Cafe the next time you are in State College, Pennsylvania (home of "Penn State"). You might just see me there blogging away...
Source: Gordon, S T (2012, February 12), In the Future, Everything Will Be a Coffee Shop, Boston Globe.