top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Who needs a degree?

Adam Braun says his wife’s $100,000 student loan debt inspired him to found MissionU, a one-year program that charges no tuition upfront. Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

The future of college may not include going to class or earning a degree, writes AP’s Maria Danilova. “Education startups are offering alternatives — from boot camps, to one- or two-year tracks, to accredited degree programs — and their founders say these options will give students a more relevant education in today’s job market, and at a lower price.”

MissionU, which began accepting its first applications last month, offers a one-year nondegree program in data analytics and business intelligence without an upfront tuition. As part of an income-sharing agreement, MissionU students will give back 15 percent of their salary for three years after graduation if they earn at least $50,000 per year. So far, the school received over 3,000 applications. Students will be taking online courses taught by industry practitioners and completing real-life projects and assignments for various companies. Partner firms such as Spotify, Lyft, Warby Parker and others are advising MissionU on its curriculum and have agreed to consider its students for jobs without a college degree. The first group of students will be based in San Francisco. A high-school diploma will not be required for admission.

Some employers no longer require job applicants have a college degree, writes Danilova. A Google official told the New York Times in 2013 that up to 14 percent of employees on some teams had never attended college.

The Computer History Museum just inducted Alan Cooper, the “father” of Visual Basic, as one of its 2017 fellows. A high school dropout, he earned a community college degree and started a company at the age of 24. He now teaches a Design Thinking course on Udemy.

The “prove-it economy’s” demand for “codified skills” is “driving a revolution in how education is constructed, delivered, used — and credentialed, writes Laura Pappano in The Atlantic. College degrees “are joined—maybe trumped—by thousands of resume-worthy credentials from shorter, non-degree programs.”

The credentials come from many sources: traditional universities; online platforms like edX; trade organizations like the American Hotel and Lodging Institute; and companies like Jiffy Lube and IBM. Content and costs vary. Some are earned in quick sessions; others take months. Programs may charge tens of thousands of dollars—or nothing. Within the credential universe, you find badges and certificates (earned for completing a course) as well as licenses and certifications (which require an exam and must be renewed).

Many of those pursuing alternative credentials already have bachelor’s degrees, but need specific skills to launch a career, writes Pappano, who also mentions MissionU.

I suspect the value of alternative credentials varies quite a bit depending on the specialty and whether there’s a recognized certification test.

Pappano has a degree from Yale, Robert Pondiscio noted on Facebook.

4 views0 comments


bottom of page