In 2001, MIT began offering its coursework online, calling it OpenCourseWare. They committed to open, inclusive, and equitable education for all. Anyone can access famed physicist Richard Feynman’s lectures at CalTech. I don’t know about you, but if I wanted to master physics, I probably would want to learn from Richard Feynman, one of the greatest theoretical physicists to have ever lived.
I think of the availability to pick and choose what to learn and who to learn from as “a curated education,”—and I think it is the education of the future. It will one day no longer be about a college education but about a curated education.
College Is But One Path Among Many
I may be in the minority, but I’m a firm believer that not everyone has to go to college to be successful. Recent research tells us that more than half of U.S. high school graduates go on to attend college. That in and of itself is a great statistic! I’m happy to report that more than half of America’s high school seniors go on to college.
However, is it a necessary step? In many cases today – it isn’t. And in the future, more recent graduates and young Americans need to focus on a curated education.
A curated education refers to a personalized and carefully selected learning experience. It is tailored to the recent graduate’s specific interests, needs, and goals. The individual can choose relevant courses, resources, and learning materials to create a customized educational journey.
The aim is to provide a more effective and engaging learning experience by focusing on what is most relevant and important to the learner. Still, it will take a massive movement, likely beyond my powers, to change the U.S. university system to be based on capabilities as opposed to hours in classes—not just putting in four (or more) years of partying at school.
College-bound Biases Will Remain
As a society, there will always be those whose sole focus is on attaining higher education, those parents who push and sometimes force their child to attend college and coerce them into a higher education.
For some, college IS the right path, and I get that. The problem is many believe “everyone has to go to college.”
I disagree! Often, when a student graduates with a college degree, they try to enter the job market, only to find companies are seeking more experience, a certification of some sort, or even a type of license. Just because you hold a college degree, this no longer guarantees you a post-college job offer.
If we focus on a curated education when students leave high school, they can choose a path. With guidance, they can pick specific coursework or training, earn a certificate, or get certified to work in a specific job.
Think about this: a student graduates from a larger and more prestigious college with a degree in engineering. Will they graduate and be immediately employed as an engineer? Maybe not. They may need additional training of some sort.
While, in practice, this is probably expected by most, if that same student left high school and immediately took some specific and relevant curated coursework in an area of technology they had an interest in, they could quite possibly be ready to work very soon (and without the typical student debt)!
According to PayScale.com, the average nationwide salary for a Microsoft Certified Professional is $94,000! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty great salary! Let our kids who are not college-bound earn these “certificates” and earn an almost six-figure salary. Welding has a similar story!
Work and Business Are All About Capabilities
If universities are stuck using hours instead of capabilities, we need another option. Thankfully, it exists in many cases. There are well-developed programs that offer certificates and certifications as proof of capabilities. These can be obtained online, live, or in a hybrid modality.
Even if you have a degree—you need to keep learning. You need to continue to curate your education and develop the right capabilities to bring you to your desired outcome.
The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, signed into law by President Joe Biden, supports my thought process. This Act builds on American manufacturing, long thought to be a blue-collar industry, one in which a college degree is not required. Not all kids are college-ready, but we can make them career-ready. These manufacturing jobs are excellent earning opportunities with a good future.
Curate the right building blocks to become that expert. If you’re an employer, curate those capabilities in your employees to make them more valuable to you and them more valuable to the industry at large.