The Piece of Paper at the End


Inspired by Seth today.

I listened to Seth Godin on the Wired Educators Podcast this week. He talked about his famous Stop Stealing Dreams manifesto about education.

He spoke at length about famous universities, and at what point the “piece of paper at the end” is worth the cost associated with it. He asked whether anyone considered value when considering which colleges and universities are considered the best.

Many of those famous universities reject 80-90% of applicants while maintaining million and billion dollar endowments that continue to grow each day. There has to be a better way.

The question is whether the piece of paper holds any value when balanced with the exorbitant debt that comes along with it. The debt establishes a huge burden for our students while colleges continue to print money. If we assume that the piece of paper leads one to solid prospective employment opportunities, then we may be able to find value.

But if we see many college grads who have a hard time finding those employment opportunities or who spend many years just paying back that debt, then maybe the piece of paper does not hold the value that we think it does.

I think we need to start asking some serious questions about the value of the piece of paper at the end. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that students can learn from anywhere. They have many choices for continuing their learning, and college may not be what we once thought it was.

Let’s consider alternatives for our students. Those that continue to allow them to be successful. Those that might be a better fit for some students.

Let’s not assume that the piece of paper at the end, and all of the debt that comes along with it must be a part of the learning experience for our young adults.




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