There is an interesting train wreck happening at the confluence of the streets called education, finances, and technology. Here is a sketch of what I am seeing. First, education costs too much. This is true at the secondary level (in Lancaster County this year public school costs are $14,200 per student per year). No one in their right mind would actually pay this for the service, but we tax at this rate. These costs (driven by pension and healthcare promises for the public employees) are going to have to head head North...far North. Still, when you consider the cost problems in undergraduate education the primary and secondary education world seems almost solvent! Colleges now are typically a path toward debt-slavery. These costs are for training and "the college experience". Both are worth something (I highly value the experience, btw). Neither are worth a life of slavery (which sort of defeats the point of a liberals arts education). Second, technology is making it easier to convey some of the training to students with lower (much!!) overhead costs. Third, colleges are using this to tempt people to come to colleges. Some educators, however, seem to me to be quite content to give their teaching away.
Here is a recent story on top colleges and universities giving some classes away:
A few thoughts:
I think that this trend will continue, but there are two reasons. First, colleges are going to try to get people to sign up for their courses to tempt them into debt slavery. This is happening and they are crafty. These free course, however, are helpful if we are craftier. You can learn a lot for nothing.
The cost structure of college must be ripped down. This can happen tomorrow. If everyone simply refuses to pay the price, then colleges will (immediately!!!) drop the price. There is nothing driving it accept desire and a willingness to pay the high costs.
Society must or should at least revert to something like the Pirate Code in Pirates of the Caribbean which says: "It is about what a man can do and what a man can not do." Businesses have to take their eyes off the diploma and put them on the competence of the person seeking employment. This is happening. It must happen more.
Smart parents and students are figuring out ways around debt slavery. This has to keep happening. The colleges--like the hospitals and insurance companies--were founded to protect and nurture. They are now (mainly) wolves looking to live off the flock. We must be wise. They are.