Hillary Clinton’s “free college” proposal — no tuition at in-state public universities for families earning up to $125,000 — is proving to be popular with middle-class voters. But it would prop up the old, expensive, unsustainable higher ed model, writes Julia Freeland Fisher on CNN.
The way to make college affordable is to encourage alternatives, writes Fisher, education research director for the Christensen Institute.
For example, short, intensive coding “bootcamps” cost students $5,000 to $15,000 — sometimes payable only after they find jobs. Employment rates are strong: General Assembly reports “a 99% job placement rate into a student’s field of study.”
. . . Southern New Hampshire University’s College For America (CfA) has managed to offer online competency-based degrees at just $3,000 per year — a fraction of the cost of a traditional brick-and-mortar degree. CfA partners directly with employers to design their curriculum — ensuring that students graduate with skills that the labor market actually values — and allows students to move through coursework at their own pace.
These alternatives focus on workforce preparation, but “there is no reason innovations can’t usher in new offerings that allow students to explore the world and their place in it, or to study a range of humanities and the liberal arts,” writes Fisher. “But there is also no reason those experiences should be priced into behemoth traditional institutions’ broken business models.”