The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Higher Ed Is Not a Bubble Set to Burst

A recent MSN Money article lists the 10 colleges and universities with the highest out-of-pocket costs in the country. Pundits often point to this sort of list as proof that online education is the future of higher education.

College can certainly cost a fortune and tuition expenses continue to rise, but that doesn’t mean it’s creating an economic “bubble” that is ready to explode, according to a staff writer for Forbes magazine. In fact, John Tamny wrote that online education may be the entity that needs to be concerned.

After working through a list of high-profile individuals who succeeded without a college education, Tamny argued students don’t really attend college for the education. Students head to campus, and parents are willing to fork over small fortunes, because attending college opens doors in the real world.

That presents a problem for online learning. While it may be less expensive and even more efficient, Tamny said all employers really seem to care about is the imprimatur of a name school, rather than the actual knowledge a student gains.

“College tuition is the price paid by parents and ambitious teens to slot them for future employment,” he wrote. “Even without government subsidies, tuition for the name schools would still be high simply because parents and kids will pay enormous amounts for something scarce in the form of an elite degree that carries weight with employers. On the other hand, online education, precisely because it represents the opposite of scarce, means it brings with it very little job-attaining value.”

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