Everyone wants their children to have the best education possible, right? I saw an article about advanced degrees and it got me thinking about my 2 and 4 year old. (I look a lot further forward than most people.) The education of our 2 and 4 year old has been rolling around in my mind for the last several months. That’s why I’m writing about optimizing the FAFSA lately.
To get the best education, some people move to better school systems. Other people are crazy enough to consider private school. (Hello mirror, nice to see you!)
In the old days, the question was largely about if a child would go to college. Nowadays, that seems like a foregone conclusion (at least in my bubble). The biggest concern has turned to the cost of college. Again, since I look further ahead than most people, the idea of the potential cost of an advanced degree is rolling around in the back of my head.
This sounds the ultimate example of a first world problem, like a baseball team have 7 ace starting pitchers. We should be so lucky if our children (or ourselves) are in a situation where we can advance after college to get more education. And if you said, “Hey the cost of that advanced degree is up to the child”, I wouldn’t spend a second arguing with you.
I feel that many of us that don’t have master’s degrees probably could get them. I considered it for a long time, but it always failed my cost/benefit analysis. It amounted to losing a year of income earning, while paying a year of income… sometimes more.
So when I read this NY Times article about a $7,000 Master’s Degree, it really got my attention.
Yes, it’s an online degree. Stick with me because it is far from a typical one.
A $7,000 master’s degree flips the cost/benefit analysis. It is a fraction of a year of income. You might have the flexibility to work while you earn it. (I have to look into the details more.)
I know what you are thinking around now… online master’s programs are common and anti-prestigious. No one considers a masters at the University of Phoenix to be the same as one from Harvard Business School. One has to consider the value of the degree as well.
What if the $7,000 online degree was from a top school? That would change your mind, wouldn’t it? The $7,000 master’s degree is in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, a very good computer science school. You get prestige at a fraction of the price. Other universities make you pay full price (or near it) for the prestige.
According the NY Times article, the students are more engaged online. They ask more questions. They work together more. This makes a lot of sense to me. When I was in college, I didn’t take advantage of office hours very often, but whenever I tried to, the professor wasn’t around. It suppose it was because it was so rare of people to show up they just gave up.
Many of the students in Georgia Tech’s online program are Gen Xers who can’t uproot their family or income situation for a master’s degree. (Hmmmm… sounds like me.) It’s serving a very different audience. I’ve seen a lot of business school degrees, but I’m not sure they were nearly as reputable or as cheap.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
Back in 2006, Intel’s Andy Grove had a saying, “A fundamental rule in technology says that whatever can be done will be done.” Georgia Tech has paved the way and proven, “Yes! We can deliver great education online at a fraction of the cost.”
Today, we’re seeing more and more trusted and respected universities turning to online offerings. Schools are realizing the rapidly changing demands of today’s working world and the importance of affordable and accessible education for higher-level positions and career growth. Not everyone can afford a traditional college education and older students (often those with a family) need access to higher education in a way that they can still work full-time and support a family. Take Maryville University, for example. They’re a traditional college that has been around for over 150 years, but in recent years they’re turned their attention to online offerings. Recently, Maryville University’s online programs placed in the top top 15% in the nation for “economic value.” I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for colleges and the cost could be driven down even further.
I think the cost could even go down from there. There’s no reason to think that Georgia Tech’s curriculum wouldn’t work elsewhere. Another fundamental rule of technology is “once the software is written, distribution is cheap (or free).” It costs a lot for Microsoft and Google to write the first version of their software, but very cheap to copy it or run the servers. A third rule of technology is that “You generally get more value and/or the cost goes down over time.” Think about the power of your cell phone over the years. I’d say that Amazon’s $50 tablet is at least as good Apple’s original $500 iPad. (Though that would be a fun debate.)
Meanwhile, the costs of on-campus universities will probably still go up. They may only go up with the costs of inflation to repair buildings. Still, I believe prices online go down while offline will go up.
This is why I think an advanced degree can be 1/10th the cost… it’s almost there. It can extend to all areas of education, including undergrad, but I went with advanced degrees in this article to fit with the proof of it working.
I wonder if it will be common to see Doogie Howsers enter the workforce. I’m envisioning people who completed high school level in middle school and who then went to compress online bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the high school years.
I’m not suggesting that’s ideal or the right path. There’s a lot more to life and growing up than education.
I simply think some students have the mental capacity, and perhaps more than ever, they’ll have the means. Maybe “whatever can be done, will be done” is a fundamental rule of people too.