I spent the weekend interacting with students in Pittsburgh, and Praxis Education Director T.K. Coleman was at Pepperdine. We both had so many great conversations with bright young people who are eager to gain skills, experience, networks, and knowledge to help them get into a career they love. There is near universal agreement among these students that college is a really expensive and rather inefficient way to discover what they want to do and do it.
There is recognition among employers and prospective employees alike that a degree is a weak, and continually weakening, signal of what kind of value an individual has to a business. There is recognition that knowledge of a wide variety of topics can be gained in so many ways beyond just sitting in a classroom listening to whatever professor you happen to get at your school. Most people now know that the dominant path between high school and a fulfilling life and career is not working all that well for a large number of people, but there’s still a lot of hesitancy to try something different.
I get it. Humans are good at reducing risk and waiting to see how things pan out before they deviate from the status quo. It’s rational behavior. Don’t bet against Vegas.
Then again, the greatest gain is made by those who do deviate from the settled path. Those who understand that they are not just an average or an aggregate, and that their uniqueness positions them to beat the averages if they break the mold at the right place and time. How to know when that is? You really can’t know unless you try it.
The interesting thing about the current higher education mold is that the value is declining and the cost rising so rapidly that there’s not too much to lose if you break free. It may seem radical to opt for something other than a four year degree, but when you weigh the costs and benefits dispassionately, it’s actually quite practical.
Little by little, the market is changing and people are waking up to the myriad choices available beyond the typical college routine. Tailor your experience to your needs and desires!