The Industrial Age Died (and Colleges Didn't Get the Memo)

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I like to think I'm a rule-follower. I wear my seatbelt, pay my rent on time, and don't feed the ducks if the sign says "don't feed the ducks." But you know what? Sometimes your passions force you to buck the system, run in the opposite direction of convention, and break all the rules along the way.

That's exactly what happened when I took a hard look at our current education system and walked the other way.

Why? Because standardized tests don't measure intelligence, and multiple choice exams don't help anyone learn anything, and we all fall asleep in 8:00 a.m. lectures. People graduate from college with six-figure debt and fall face first into a job market that demands real-world experience, real-work skills, and real-life problem-solving. And what do college students have? Usually, none of the above. But I have a shiny diploma! From XYZ Elite University! I can cram history facts like nobody's business! I got a 4.0!

The Industrial Age died and our colleges didn't get the memo.

Traditional courses produce students who have the ability to memorize information, follow directions, find the right answer, and work within a system. These students would be great factory workers and fantastic skilled laborers. Unfortunately, these students flounder when they're asked to collaborate with a team, think outside the box, see a project through from start to finish, or think innovatively.

These are sweeping statements; I realize that. And yes, you're right, there are exceptions -- exceptional schools, exceptional professors, and exceptional students. But look at the system as a whole. It's failing us.

So that's why I let the rule-follower inside me die, bit-by-bit.

I see the student loan debt statistics, I hear the employer's complaints, I study the evolution of education, and I tell my peers to skip college and start a graphic design business. To take a year off and teach English in Thailand or trek through Nepal. To chase skills instead of a piece of paper. To master the art and science of self-motivated, self-directed learning. Or to do what I did and work within the system to earn my degree for less than $10k in less than two years. (But don't worry, I still don't feed the ducks.)