Is the College Degree Outdated?

Many in the education community speak of the importance of a postsecondary education for all of today’s learners, and rightfully so. As young people make the transition from school to career, there are many important lessons, skills, and experiences that postsecondary education provides.

It is important, though, to recognize that postsecondary education is not synonymous with a liberal arts college degree. As learners explore their interests and aptitudes and begin understanding the career pathways before them, a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts discipline isn’t necessarily the key to future success.

The Hechinger Report recently explored this topic, as reporter Laura Pappano asked the question, “Is the college degree outdated?” In her piece, Pappano explored how many of today’s young people are recognizing that microcredentials, career certificates, and other forms of measureable educational attainment can make all the difference when moving from the student body to the workforce.

As Pappano noted:

We have entered a “prove it” economy in which codified skills are currency. It’s driving a revolution in how education is constructed, delivered, used — and credentialed. Even as degrees, from associates to doctorates, proliferate, they are joined — maybe trumped — by thousands of resume-worthy credentials from shorter, non-degree programs.

The Hechinger Report raises some very important questions that all must consider when examining college and career pathways for today’s – and tomorrow’s – learners.

We all recognize that no two learners are exactly alike.  Each brings a different set of aptitudes, interests, experiences, and backgrounds. If the learners are different, we must recognize that the paths each takes to an intended career will also be different. Those educational institutions that recognize that, and that begin to develop a wide array of credentials to help students demonstrate what they know and are able to do, will help lead more an more students successfully into the “’prove it’ economy” about which Pappano writes.

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