Friday, October 26, 2012

Why I believe college education is ready for disruption

I believe that college education is ready for disruption in the next 5 years.  The disruption will force colleges to drastically change how they attract their future students and the way they educate them to prepare for the fast changing work environment.  Here's why:

1. We need more educated workforce

As a high tech worker, I see every day how difficult to find a qualified candidate for a job opening.  Yet I read about people unable to find work even after years of job search.  This is because there is mismatch between skills that unemployed people have and skills that are required by employers.  There are jobs to be had, but employers are not able to find the qualified candidates.  In the past 20 years this trend towards more educated workforce has been clear.  I expect this trend to continue putting pressure for more people to seek higher education.


2. Rising college tuition

It's no secret that college tuition has been on the rise.  But it's difficult to appreciate how much college tuition has risen over the years.  Let's put this in perspective.  Everyone knows we had the biggest housing bust in decades.  If you look at the housing price over the years and compare it against Consumer Price Index, it looks something like this.

Source: Market Oracle
We all know what happened in 2007.  Housing price that Wall Street had been projecting to climb up indefinitely reversed its course and crashed hard.  Housing price growth leading up to 2007 was simply unsustainable.

Well, there is another rising price that dwarfs housing price boom.  It's cost of college tuition.

Source: Wikipedia
Compared against Consumer Pricing Index and home price, college tuition has increased several times faster than either one of them.  This rapid growth curve for college education is simply unsustainable.  It makes a little sense to go to college when you are expected to graduate with tuition debts that you have to carry for the rest of your life.

3. Massive Open Online Courses movement

As demand for higher education increases and college education grows out of reach for most Americans, alternative to college becomes more attractive.  Thankfully there are alternatives and they are growing.  Sites like Udacity and others are providing free online college-level courses for everyone to learn.  When you have world-class lecturers, home work assignments, and on-line collaboration tools to share your ideas and learn from other students, it provides basic tools for motivated students to learn on their own pace.

VCs are noticing this trend and betting that sites like Udacity will play a key role in disrupting college education.

I want to leave you with an inspirational video that I discovered from Fred Wilson's blog.  It was a TEDxYouth talk given by Seth Godin.

There are many other reasons why our education system must change in U.S.  The most important reason of all, I believe is to inspire younger generation to find their passion and teach how to learn for themselves.  That  ought to be the goal of all our education.

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