Monday, January 08, 2018

How Western Governors University Will End the Insanity at American Colleges...Sort Of

A long time ago a fan of mine put me onto WGU or "Western Governors University."  It is an online college that charges less than half the national average in tuition, it's accredited, it allows you to study from the comforts of your own home (or anywhere, really), you don't have to commute, pay for parking, walk in the cold, get falsely accused of rape, attend marxist indoctrination seminars on "diversity" or "privilege," take worthless pre-requisite classes, or pay idiotic "student service fees."   It (along with ASU online) is one of the first accredited colleges to do one simple thing that:

energy companies

and nearly every other sector of the economy has managed to do these past 20 years.

Offer their service online.

Of course, colleges have absolutely no incentive to go online even though their product (education) is ideally suited (i.e. - a service, not a physical tangible product) to be sold over the internet.  Because if they did start offering accredited degrees over the internet, nearly everyone in higher education would lose their jobs and have to go find real ones in the real world instead of teaching.

One excellent professor can deliver a superior seminar or lecture to millions of students over the internet for a fraction of the cost it would take thousands of inferior in-classroom professors to do so.

You certainly don't need student centers, dorms, sports arenas, safe spaces, classrooms or any other physical buildings, let alone the land or infrastructure required for a college campus.  Just some servers and IT staff.

And all those college administrators, professors, diversity counselors, diversity directors, directors of inclusion, dorm managers, coaching staffs, student aid officers, janitors, counselors, and consultants?  Gone.  Again replaced with...well...some servers and IT staff.

If you think about it, the cost of college tuition should be approaching zero.  It's just so few colleges dare to offer accredited degrees online that what few entrants there are can still charge a pretty penny (though half the cost...and 1/100th the hassle and brainwashing...of that of physical schools).

According to economics this less costly, less painful, and ultimately superior product should cause a mass exodus from America's traditional colleges and universities and into the new online ones.  This exodus I believe would also be doubly encouraged by the never-ending price increases in physical colleges' tuition and the fact the upcoming generation of college students (Gen Y) have spent their entire lives online.  And though we won't know for sure until it happens, it's almost as obvious that today's physical colleges are as outdated and obsolete as the horse and buggy, the typewriter, newspapers, and ESPN.

There's just one problem.

Tell today's college bound kids that.

The truth is we...well...don't tell the youth the truth.  We lie to them.  Every day we tell them they "have to go to college."  That the "key to success is college."  By god, if you don't go to college you'll end up poor, alone, and (GASP!) not as successful as your peers!  And you don't want that do you?

But there is something else much more fundamental going that adults, parents, and people-you-shouldn't-trust-because-they're-over-30 don't understand.  And that is we have created such a hopeless, prison-like environment in the K-12 education system that these kids literally have NOTHING ELSE in life to look forward to than college.  We don't teach them about the trades.  We don't teach them about potentially joining the military.  We don't teach them about homeownership, repair, housekeeping, having kids or the American dream.  And I don't know one family that sits their kids down and tries to teach them about the importance of love, friends, family, and their future, giving them a kernel of hope there's something better for them in life than "just more school."  This myopic focus on college ensures that young people today view college more like a young lady views her wedding day than they do an incredibly expensive and important financial investment in their future.  And thus a fair amount of college-bound kids do not view college as an education, but a birthright entitlement called "The College Experience."

This will cause a split between America's college-bound.

Serious kids who want to invest in a real education that will increase their lifetime earnings.


Defeated kids who, lacking real guidance and upbringing from their parents and teachers, just want to escape to The Promised Land of Canaan College for the "college experience."

And this is how the insanity at America's colleges will end...more or less.

With physical colleges being unable to compete for the real college students, their attendances will drop, their revenues drop, and the quality and caliber of their students will drop.  Again, this won't happen over night (and online colleges will have to start offering more STEM and engineering degrees if they wish to accelerate this process), but it is already happening.  Tuition is getting so expensive it's forcing kids to look for cheaper alternatives, plus the internet is exposing higher education for the racket it is, not to mention breaking the information monopoly the old "Baby Boomer Era" of professors, teachers, and deans held in analog days over their students.  The worthlessness of many college degrees is becoming apparent and alternatives to attending the "big university" are becoming increasingly well-known to college-age youth.

But this exodus will not only leave traditional, physical college with less money, but it will also leave them with the poorer-quality students.  The mere "dreamers."  The "college experience" students.  The pot-smokers.  Those who don't take their studies seriously and largely major in worthless subjects to post-pone adulthood for another 4-8 years, perhaps their entire lives by becoming professors themselves.  This will not only result in physical colleges becoming more hostile towards serious students (protests, made up student fees, forcing people to attend "sensitivity training, accusing people of privilege, etc.) and thus further driving them into the arms of online colleges, but it will highlight to the world just what a mentally insane (and ultimately worthless) environment physical colleges have become.  Combine this with the internet, and the DAILY insanity is hilariously/tragically chronicled for all the world to see.

What's worse for physical colleges, however, is while all the world will witness their mental and childish behavior, they are so inoculated in their precious world of academia they're completely unaware how they're driving students away.  And thus, they will not only continue this insane, even hate filled behavior, but turn it up to 11...then 12, then 13, then 50, inevitably deterring even the most brainwashed of students because it will have turned into nothing but a radical, hate-filled cult of leftist, mentally damaged inferiors.  Alas, slowly, but surely, physical colleges will no longer be bastions of true diverse and independent thought, with 10's of thousands of students, but poorly-attended liberal arts colleges that the world will make fun of...and never hire from.

In the end we will never get rid of the allure of "The College Experience."  There will always be mis-informed kids who were so ill-raised they will have nothing else "but" in their lives.  But with the power of the internet, both in terms of the nearly-free education it can deliver and its ability to expose just what a toxic and worthless institution American higher education has become, we can maybe start saving generations of youth from making the crippling mistake of paying for overpriced worthless degrees instead of feeding them to the meatgrinder of Big Education.
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Anonymous said...

Hi, Cap'n: I hope that in the massive bandwidth of data coming your way, you can point it out when the online campuses start to get affected by political correctness. I withdrew from a U of MD online graduate program for a variety of reasons, but one of those reasons was because of PC-stuff*. Will likely be attempting another run with Capella but just for a graduate certificate. My experience with three online outfits now investigating what to do next reveals it very difficult to get straight answers about academic freedom, etc.

*in my experience with U of MD, an assignment for a "Diversity in Management" class or some such was to write a puff piece about the CEO of Yahoo - this would be the one who fired male engineers so she could replace them with female non-engineers, and who presided over the value of the company crashing after it was hacked. We literally were assigned to write on how well she did compared to those men she replaced as CEO, who gave her such a crummy situation to fix. The teacher literally was confused on the week the class started as to whether it was an online-only class or a "mixed" on-line physical presence class. The mind boggles as to how that promotion came about .....the teacher name was not even on the official roster of instructors for U of MD.

Kraemer said...

Let us pay our respects the medical students and engineers who will be forced into physical colleges due to the hands-on natures of their degrees. Although, tbh, the med students do most of their practicals in hospitals anyhow.

Andrew_M_Garland said...

Google: math teacher makes millions

Korean online teacher makes 8 million USD in one year

South Korean Tutor Makes $4 Million A Year. Can You?

Anonymous said...

Accreditation itself is a huge scam. You know who are the best people to determine academic merits and standards? Bureaucrats, people who flunked out of life so hard they couldn't even get into academia.

And of course everyone knows that government agencies never have conflicts of interest and never take bribe money from lobby groups...

Glen Filthie said...

Not so.

Lot of STEM course work is in the lab. There is also the fact that universities have a huge role in R&D. Look - I hate the liberal arts fart suckers as much as the next guy... but some things cannot be taught over the internet. And though I hated it at the time... nowadays I look back with fondness for the days I spent in the class, or after hours cramming and sweating the exams and midterms. A proper university offering real programs still has a place.

JK Brown said...

Fortunately, online education is evolving just as film did as it progressed from simply filming a stage play to using the moveable camera to create a more intimate audience experience. Most online courses have been filmed lectures. Hardly an improvement, except in being able to rewind when your mind wander.

Recently, I came across a Youtube channel (Jim Pytel) of a guy who is systematically presenting the lectures for an electrical industrial technician type course. Everything except the lab. His catch phrase being "Think how well lab will go when you know what you are doing". Pytel has adopted the onscreen "blackboard" and the off-screen narrater like Khan Academy. Very effective. His channel is apparently supported by an NSF grant. This is the future of online learning. The vocational nature of the subject does leave the in-person lab work with equipment for the brick and mortar.

The universities are reverting to their Medieval purpose as described in this contrast between the old university and the increasingly rare Scottish type. Remember, the Scottish universities produced a good portion of the Industrial Revolution and luminaries such as Adam Smith.

"The medieval university differed in many respects with our idea of a modern university. It was primarily a guild of teachers and scholars, formed for common protection and mutual aid. It was a republic of letters, whose members were exempt from all services private and public, all personal taxes and contributions, and from all civil procedure in courts of law. The teaching function was secondary, and often entirely overlooked. The Scottish university from the beginning, however, emphasized the teaching function, and created an atmosphere academic rather than civil or political."

The Scottish university, John Grier Hibben, 'Scribner's Magazine', 1901

Jay Ritchie said...

Hi Cappy

A few years ago I looked at the London External programmes - Degrees cost about £5-6k (up a lot from a couple of years ago which is a pity). Properly certified from respectable universities on the whole.

I think this could be a way forward. An institution provides an exam programme with proper controls over testing and robustness then allows students to study as they wish. There are some independent schools which provide teaching, some self study. I was looking at philosophy courses and found independent tutors offering decent rates for marking essays and one to one tuition either on line or in person.

As noted above these work better for maths/ arts subjects where no labs are required - but those are the students paying the most for lower financial reward.

James said...

Fart sucker? You mean like yourself..

Unknown said...

Actually, on-line courses do not even use lectures or seminars. They all use on-line reading and you tend to write a lot of articles and papers. On-line discussion via comments is also used.


Unknown said...

Actually, on-line courses do not even use lectures or seminars. They all use on-line reading and you tend to write a lot of articles and papers. On-line discussion via comments is also used.


A Texan said...

Most of the research even done in STEM is mostly worthless crap. I worked in such a place, and while a good science project for students, most of it is nothing new or innovative. Innovations may occur at a dozen or so universities. This is evidenced by the thousands of engineering journals that no one reads or has time to even it were worth anything.

Universities are minting too many PHd's even in STEM and MBA's.

The lab work is important, but I imagine the market can work a way around that to. Not like electronic and other stuff is really that expensive anymore.

Anonymous said...

Hi again, Cap'n: Just a few days after my post (#1) this turns up: PC in graduate on line studies rears its head.·gal+In·sur·rec·tion%29

Anonymous said...

"...nearly everyone in higher education would lose their jobs and have to go find real ones in the real world instead of teaching."

RealTalk. Thank you!

Mike said...

FYI, Cappy, I've now got my wife looking at an online full stack web developer bootcamp that just became accredited through a state university. You graduate with a certification and 15 credit hours towards an actual degree!

If all goes well for her, I may go through it myself.

DrTorch said...

Wow, you laid it out there. The bit about college as the escape from K-12 prison is a brilliant insight.

I'm sharing this one.