Ha-Ya or community college?

It’s 2020. Harvard and Yale announce their merger. Ha-Ya’s new president, “tiger daughter” Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, pledges to slash tuition to attract students. Shanghai University is buying Princeton. Stanford is shedding its undergraduate division to focus on law, medicine and business schools.

Instead of attending a high-cost bricks-and-mortar college, debt-averse students are taking online courses, studying with freelance professors and using a portfolio of test results, essays and reports on activities to qualify for jobs without a college degree. It’s Jane Shaw‘s fantasy of the future of higher education.

It all started, Shaw writes, on May 28, 2010, when “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber wrote about  Cortney Munna, a graduate of New York University who owed $97,000 in student loans and works for a photographer earning $22 an hour.

All it requires to become reality is an accepted way for people to certify what they’ve learned.

On Community College Spotlight: Where should collegebound students go in the fall: Harvard or their local community college?

Is a college degree worth the debt?

About Joanne


  1. Any business trying to use portfolios of coursework as a qualification for hiring risks being a test case for an expansion of “anti-discrimination” authority under Griggs vs. Duke Power.

  2. E-P, the suggestion did not relate either to a formal college portfolio or to a requirement of a prospective employer, but instead proposed that students (or perhaps I should say “young people”) would compile their own portfolios for the purpose of documenting their skills and qualification to employers. (For that matter, aren’t you being a bit concrete in your response to what is, after all, something of a flight of fancy?)

  3. It doesn’t matter what prospective employees can assemble as qualifications; if employers can’t use them to winnow the pile of resumés without being hit with a suit by the EEOC, they’re not going to be very useful.  See Griggs and the law on “disparate impact”.