PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel predicts that the next major bubble following the housing market crash will be not be in tech, but instead in higher education. Like web technology in the dot-com bubble, college education is nearing over-evaluation quelled only by hiking tuition. Despite higher application rates, higher attendance and higher tuition than ever before, colleges are feeling economic pressure and encumbered by spending freezes. More graduates are dropping out, drowning in student loan debt, failing to enter the job market, and moving in with their parents than ever before. The value of university education against the cost of attendance is questionably worth the capital investment risk. College cannot promise you a competitive job anymore.
How can universities prevent an inevitable devaluation and bubble burst of its own?
Change the promise. Or change the program.
“Learning” in and of itself is hardly an incentive for teenagers who just spent thirteen years in school. After taking all of those miserable standardized tests, the last thing they want to do is take more tests. Universities sell education to youngsters as a step toward employment. Changing the promise would mean being realistic about post-college probability, which would invariably scare applicants away. Bad for business. I do not think colleges can afford to revise their promise.
So that leaves only one alternative: change the program.
I am hardly an expert on educational reform, but education is very important to me. I was a professional student from 1992 to 2009 and will continue to be a student of life until the day I die. As I continue with this blog, I will try to propose suggestions to teachers and schools for “changing the program.” Maybe we can discover healthy alternatives together. Stay tuned!