Guiding our kids into their fast-changing futures.

Think Kids are Ready for College? Think Again

It’s not just that 40% of kids who go to community colleges need remediation in basic subjects. It’s more that a huge chunk of kids who go to any college are “disengaged” and not ready for “the kind of thinking and learning that college professors are going to expect of students.” This according to an important interview from NPR on what’s happening to the hyper-connected, over-scheduled, over-tested generation of kids we’re now raising.

And “ready for college” depends on what college is today. As Diana Oblinger argues in “Higher Education in the Connected Age,” it pretty much can’t be the same as it ever was now that “learners are connected” in ways that didn’t exist a few years ago.

And finally, to round out this week’s higher ed installment on a down note, The Guardian has launched into a eye-opening series titled “The US Student Debt Project.” #ugh

We’re talking about preparation for college on our website. Would love your thoughts.

A Degree in Barista Studies?

Megan McArdle writing in the Daily Beast (the Web version of Newsweek) considers a stark reality regarding college degrees, namely that we may be “pushing more and more people into (more and more expensive) college programs, even as the number of jobs in which they can use those skills has declined.” Not that we read all 500+ comments on the piece, but a quick scan will give you a sense of how muddied the waters are becoming on the college to career path.

And since jobs are scarce, Hannah Seligson of The Week wonders if we’re “raising a generation of interns” as more and more grads look to get low-paying internships in hopes of a full-time gig. Unfortunately, that may not be working either.

Share your thoughts on disruption to the college path.

The State of Higher Education is…Confusing

As the owner of two teen agers, it feels like I’m staring into the abyss when it comes to college. And the latest news isn’t helping me sort things out.

If cost is your major concern, the conversation around the debt-free yet worthwhile college education continues to grow. And don’t be so quick to discount a community college education as a stepping stone to success.

Regardless, the state of spending in higher education is, to say the least, less than wonderful. As Jordan Weissmann says in this Atlantic report on the severe cuts in the last few years, “we’re going to be living with the effects for a long time.”

Coming Soon: College Without the Credits

Continuing our last issue’s look at some options for college, the US Dept. of Education is endorsing a new path for universities that gets rid of the credit requirement and, instead, focuses on whether or not students can actually do something with what they’ve learned regardless of where they learned it. This idea of “competency based” learning has a lot of appeal to many. One reason? How about a degree that costs…wait for it…$2,500. Not that there aren’t some details that are still to be worked out, but that’s a pretty good start.  No doubt, this is an early step in opening up new paths that we’ll be watching. And while this current initiative is coming from the US, there is interest in other countries which is sure to catch on. We’ll keep you up to date on that as well.

We’re interested in what you think of this idea.

The Road Less Travelled…To College?

Parents of high school kids (and, we guess, middle school kids) who are getting nervous about upcoming college applications might feel better knowing that Hope Perlman and KJ Dell’Antonia have been kind enough to share their own angsty paths in two great New York Times blog posts, “Redefining Success for a College-Bound Child” and “Not Every Parent Chases College Prestige.”

And if you want to totally avoid the college thing, author Dale Stephens’ new book Hacking Your Education might be the ticket, though we admit to sharing some of the concerns voiced by one our favorite bloggers Audrey Watters in this review.

And if you want the middle road, don’t forget that Two-Year Tech Degrees Pay Off as well.

What are you thinking about the different paths that might be available to your kids?

More Options for the Degree

Think it’s impossible to earn 54 college credits in just 14 weeks? That’s what 39-year-old Jennifer Hunt did at Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey, a school that allowed her to take college equivalency exams instead of sit in lecture halls learning the material. But here’s the quote that I found really compelling:

“We don’t care how or where the student learned, whether it was from spending three years in a monastery,” said George A Pruitt, the college’s president, “as long as that learning is documented by some reliable assessment technique.”

Watch for more and more of these options to open up in the near term.

Skip Class, Get the Degree

Seems not a week goes by without another university offering up yet another way to get a degree faster and cheaper. The university of Wisconsin is offering “multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees,” meaning students can test out of courses and earn credits without ever sitting in a classroom, online or off. As university president Kevin Reilly says in this Wall Street Journal piece, “The ground is shifting under us in higher education.” While the program fees haven’t yet been set for the fall startup, they will be “significantly less expensive” than current full time tuition.

Look for more of these non-traditional paths to a degree to keep cropping up. And for those who have been following the MOOC links we’ve been dropping, be aware: Some Coursera free courses can now earn you real college credit.

Here. We. Go.