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Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Articles, new articles | 3 comments

Why Pay Full Price for College When You Can Find it Online for Way Cheaper?

Why Pay Full Price for College When You Can Find it Online for Way Cheaper?

Posted by Melissa Wimbish

This article, published in the NY Times about a year and a half ago, raises some “educated” reasons as to why higher education in the age of the Internet is kind of a ripoff::

All your life, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors have drilled the idea into your head that you must go to college. It has been made clear that if you don’t get good grades and attend a four-year college, the rest of your life will be a dismal failure.

I’m arguing that all of this is wrong. The social cues that defined what you thought about education ought to be questioned.

There is a community of people who are making a different choice. Instead of going into debt, they are taking the future into their own hands. They are using the real world to find mentors and learn practical skills. They are traveling, volunteering, interning and apprenticing.

While many might see this path as extremely risky, I argue that going to school and graduating with an average of $26,000-plus in debt is at least as risky in today’s uncertain job market.

Of course, debt is not the only factor to consider when making decisions about higher education. Learning outcomes are also important, but there are disturbing numbers there as well. According to “Academically Adrift” — a book based on a study about undergraduate education in the United States — as many as 45 percent of students show “no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning or written communication during their first two years in college.”

Furthermore, some recent college graduates are not faring too well in the job market. According to the economist Andrew Sum of Northeastern University, more than 44 percent of college graduates under 25 who were area studies majors were unemployed in 2009 or working in a job that did not require their degree.

Today, self-directed learning is easier than ever. Not long ago, if you told someone that the Internet was coming, there was no chance they would have believed you. Now, you can learn, on your own, the skills you need to succeed. Not only are the resources free, but they’re accessible from nearly anywhere in the world. Continue reading the full article here!

How does this apply to the field of music? Do you think that musicians of the 21st century can build a fruitful career without the aid of college connections? Are the (alleged) skills we acquire in college really so unattainable without a structured entity and stupidly high tuition guiding our way? Weigh in below. 

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  1. Although I’ve been following this line of thought through other industry blogs, I must say, I’m very surprised to find it here. I hope you’re floating a hypothetical, rather than a push for music-learning in a vacuum. Perhaps you didn’t read the steady stream of well-considered rebuttals to the article you reference?

    Music is a communal activity, and there is only so far a singer or player can go without face-to-face work with experienced pros AND ongoing ensemble work with their peers. Both are extraordinarily difficult to replicate outside of a college or conservatory environment, as immersion is key.

    Those of us involved in hiring and contracting performers are already seeing the effects of online experiments, as young grads with largely virtual or “independent study” degrees are emerging into the professional world with little polish, less understanding of what is expected of them, and precious few networking skills. We already struggle with these issues in graduates from respected but out-of-touch traditional institutions. Now these largely self-taught veterans of online learning are even less ready to find and keep professional work than those who take lessons for years and then start their careers later, sans degree. At least those in the latter category have some life experience to guide them, and they have a better idea of the gaps in their education. Cyberspace is not a panacea, and it cannot replace the personal relationships that are an essential part of education.

    There may be room for more hybrid programs in the future. But there are many questions to be met, and in the meantime, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. In-person education counts.

  2. Thanks for your wonderful comment. Yes, we are floating a hypothetical… simply exploring the idea that college doesn’t have to be for everyone. Not saying that it isn’t the best for some of us. Would love to feature your comment as an article with your permission. Best wishes, Melissa

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