The costs of a conventional education in this country continue to rise as the perceived benefits are on the decline. Easy access to student loans has helped delay this inevitable decline, but education is not bulletproof to the markets correlation of price and value. The costs to start a business are at an all time low and open source information is at an all time high which means the price of conventional education will either have to fall drastically or it will continue to be disrupted with alternatives. I’m personally very interested in some of the educational alternatives that are on the rise:
1) Read everything: There are unlimited books available on every imaginable subject. Amazon has made it possible to have a used book delivered to your door for a few bucks within 48 hours.
2) Explore digital tools: The Internet is full of open source digital tools. From TED Talks to online courses, you can become an expert on any subject at no cost.
3) Community: The Internet has exposed local meet-ups, small business groups and associations to collaborate with like-minded people and support networks.
4) Get some experience: You are never too old for an internship. If you want to gain knowledge in a particular area, donate your time in exchange for learning. Since experience is the best way to learn, consider it free education.
5) Find a mentor: The right mentors are always dying to help people just starting out because they have been in their shoes and have a plethora of knowledge. Unlike many professors, a mentor that has real world experience in the field you are pursuing can be an invaluable resource.
Mark Cuban said, "I am a huge believer that you go to college to learn how to learn. However, if that goal is subverted because traditional universities, public and private, charge so much to make that happen, I believe the system will collapse and there will be better alternatives created." This is a great example of how innovation will always be a driving force in America. We will always look for ways to do things better, faster, and simpler. It will be interesting to see if conventional education will innovate with us or be a casualty to read about in the next generations open source history book.