When Will Higher Education Becomes Obsolete?

May 5, 2016

12:32 pm

Don’t get me started on the higher education monster we have created in this country. Uhh…I guess that’s already me getting started, so I have no choice but to continue.

I have been saying for years that the time when a college degree was a must-have for a decent job is coming to an end. In fact, I predict that in the next 10-20 years more students will be learning skills in nontraditional ways than taking the traditional route to college. What was once considered a requirement if you wanted to get anywhere in the white-collared world will no longer be the case.

There are so many avenues for furthering your education and skills development these days. Thanks to the Internet, the Sharing Economy, MOOCs, and even through the genuine goodwill of experts who want to share their knowledge far and wide, we’re practically being slapped across the face with learning resources on a daily basis.

Want to learn to code? You can learn online for free. Want to learn to cook? No need for a fancy culinary school when you have YouTube at your disposal. Need to come up with a killer business plan to blow the pants off of some VCs? Aside from the millions of books on the topic (I know…books…so passé), there are online resources that freely feed you pretty much anything you need to know on the topic, or any aspect of building a business for that matter.

Along with this abundance of resources will be more people venturing out on their own to learn the skills they need. This means everything from making Google your best friend when you’ve been hired for a job that’s over your head to taking online courses and making a successful career change with no need to go back to school for extra degrees.

This chart from Degreed illustrates how the workforce learns in 2016. As you can see, daily and weekly learning typically occurs in the form of web searches, peer/team interaction, online articles and blogs, and videos. It’s much rarer that learning takes place in a more structured way. Occasionally companies will pay for professional mentoring, online courses, or conferences and trade shows, but learning in the workforce is much more often done informally.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 8.29.07 PM

This is just one sign of a larger cultural shift when it comes to the importance of formal education whether it’s happening immediately post-high school or later in someone’s career.

Degreed is an online learning platform that is designed to find, track, and recognize all learning.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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