Thursday, April 14, 2011

Higher education is dead on its feet

What is the most important thing I learned in college? How to use a web browser. At that time the world wide web was still in it's infancy, and Netscape was a big deal. I was still telnetting onto school servers to check my email. And using ftp to download and print items of rarity and value. Like spoiler list and analysis of the latest M:tG release. And universal role-playing systems.

But the web changed all that. Not my interests, of course, but how I accessed information. Having it all in one place made it so much easier to research. The advent of Yahoo, then Google, made things even easier.  None of this is complicated to learn, either. General web literacy is a matter of weeks (at most.) This means the majority of expertise on most subjects is only a few clicks away. Goodbye expensive degree, and all the headaches that go attending classes at a physical location.

There are plenty of recent graduates who can attest to the decline in the prestige value of a degree when it comes to getting an actual job. The real value of an education, of course, is what you learn. And the networks you develop. Neither of which requires a physical school any more. So goodbye academic degree, so long liberal arts, adios amigos.

Some exceptions: most vocational degree or certificates, any physical pursuit (although honestly most of these are really trades), and any career path that bears a lot of potential for litigation and thus requires extensive vetting (doctor, lawyer, etc.)

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