Winter for Higher-Ed
Grad School’s Equivalent of Uber

Universities keep telling themselves nothing is wrong with their core business model, but the Ubers of higher ed are out to disrupt them. At the Washington Post

Think of just-in-time education as when you watch a video on YouTube to figure out how to change a flat tire or fix a broken appliance.

These emerging providers know that today’s economy demands education throughout our careers rather than just at the beginning, so they offer short spurts of content (from a few hours to a few weeks) when students need it instead of giving them a full helping of a degree.

So far, their model is proving popular. The Khan Academy serves 10 million people a month with 5,000 videos. General Assembly has nearly two dozen locations around the world and more than 12,000 alumni who have taken its full- and part-time courses, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s and already have a bachelor’s degree.

The growth of these alternatives is due in part to this key factor: older students are more self-motivated than undergraduates. More and more of them seem to be managing very nicely without picking up the huge bills at traditional programs. Selingo argues that graduate programs are more ripe for disruption than undergrad programs, but if these startups continue to steal students from traditional graduate programs, you could see downward pressure on undergraduate programs as well.

Disruptions in the education market will likely force changes on our outdated higher education model that go beyond layoffs and school closings—to the distress of traditional institutions, but also quite likely to the benefit of students. On the latter score, do-it-yourself grad school, as a time- and money-saver, sounds promising indeed.

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