America’s finest assets are its natural resources and universities – information-based economy
If we desire to continue the strong educational tradition as we march further into an information-based economy, where the most coveted jobs fall under the umbrella of knowledge work, then education must evolve alongside the technologies that shape the habits of our lives.
The rising private university tuition – with few checks on cost – creates, for many, an untenable situation. Students must determine how much is too much. This runaway tuition freight train positions state schools as sensible options. Since 2009, the income-based repayment program has been helpful in permitting students to pursue their preferred job irrespective of their student debt load. Even so, this debt weighs heavily – both financially and emotionally – on those venturing out into the working world.
While University of California, California State University and community colleges enjoy state subsidies that private schools do not, private institutions enjoy a nonprofit status that affords a great many tax savings, lightening the operational load and paving the way to nurture an endowment treasure chest. While UCLA’s current tuition of $13,804 is higher than the $630 my mother paid in the 1970’s, it still represents an incredible value for a world-class education relative to other American institutions.
Community colleges also have excellent value and use similar textbooks to their four-year counterparts. At its core, college is one part learning and another part socialization. Higher education offers many opportunities to be inspired by professors who are making breakthroughs in their fields and positions students to make deep connections with their peers. These university connections often lead to lifelong friendships and job opportunities down the road. It is, however, not the only path.
The pandemic introduced Zoom-based classrooms and removed the in-person component that is so central to the historical college experience. Instantaneously, almost every college student was forced into an unfamiliar, remote learning experience. During this time, disruptive education technology leaders such as EdX and Coursera were ready with a library of coursework, allowing students to see how these massive open online courses compared to their remote classroom experience. For many, it compared very closely, as platforms were using the same tools for collaboration, such as Zoom office hours, and facilitated discussions leading to friendships and professional connections.