Conventional college route shifts to “education buffet”

Posted on September 18th, 2013

I love a good buffet. Health hazards aside, what’s not to like about getting to choose from a multitude of options, taking as little or as much of each as you like?

Most high school students think of “choosing a college” in the singular form–that they have to decide on one school to attend for the next four years and that’s it. But increasingly, college students are taking the “buffet” to higher education, according to The Hechinger Report.

A few AP classes there, some time at a traditional brick-and-mortar campus, a couple classes at a local community college, and some MOOCs or other online classes thrown in–all can combine to offer students an affordable, complete education in their chosen field of study.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a non-traditional approach to higher education. These options give today’s students more flexibility and the ability to design the best education for their personal needs and aspirations, while giving them the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of college.

For example, some schools offer college credit for real-world experience. In fact, a student who earns 15 credits for career experience can save from $1,605 at a large public university to $6,000 at a private one, according to the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

Credit: The Hechinger Report

And bringing in credits can help students complete their degrees faster, saving the student both time and money. Diligent students with credit from AP or IB classes, summer and/or online classes, or work experience could shave semesters off their time at a residential college–reducing room and board expenses significantly.

The buffet approach doesn’t work for every student, but students who need or desire a more flexible, varied, and more affordable college experience could benefit greatly from “hacking” their college education.

As the quality and quantity of alternative forms of higher education increase, we expect to see even more students embracing this style of higher education–which, hopefully, could force traditional 4-year colleges to lower their high price tags in order to compete.

Category: Choosing a College

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