Is Higher Education Losing its Appeal?

Once upon a time, professionals looked askance at graduates from online universities.  But as technology continues to advance, and with it educational and training programs, the opinion of alternative and nontraditional education has evolved.  No longer are individuals looking to the standard university as the most acceptable and appealing option for launching their careers.

In a recent article published by the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Bachelor’s Degree, Has it Lost its Edge and its Value?” author Lee Lawrence questions whether the four-year college track is really all it’s cracked up to be.  Over the past few years, graduates have gone to universities in droves, certain that it was the one way to secure a lucrative and satisfying career.  However, things seem to be changing.  Linda Hagedorn, recent president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education explains, “As more and more people get a bachelor’s degree, it becomes more commonplace.  …In many communities around the country, the bachelor’s degree is not enough to make you stand out.”

Author Jane Shaw recognizes a similar trend.  In her USA Today article entitled “Vocational Certificates an Alternative to College,” she notes that approximately 40% of students who attend college are taking longer to graduate, and when they do, they are overwhelmed by debt and encounter greater difficulty finding jobs.

It is this sad fact that has led many to consider alternative forms of education.  Some are looking to vocational training that awards graduates with certificates instead of degrees.  Shaw explains, “These are credentials awarded for vocational programs that prepare students for specific jobs…  Getting a certificate usually takes two years or less.  It is cheaper than a four-year degree, for both students and taxpayers.”

Prospective students and trainees are recognizing the value of specified training.  Not only will these programs cost them less in the long run, but graduates are able to hit the workforce much earlier than their college-educated peers.

Lawrence explains, “This means that alternatives to the bachelor’s are mushrooming. Options range from expensive for-profit institutions to free, online nondegree classes taught by Ivy League faculty through Udacity and Coursera and company-specific training classes such as Novell computer technology certifications or Microsoft certifications in cloud technology.”

People are encountering a variety of options as they consider the career track they’d wish to pursue.  In this, it’s important that one determine which course will take them to their desired destination most effectively.  Individuals may ultimately be surprised at what they decide.

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Lawrence, Lee.  “Bachelor’s Degree, Has it Lost its Edge and its Value?” 17 June 2012

Shaw, Jane.  “Vocational Certificates an Alternative to College.” 14 June 2012