The Coming Meltdown in Higher Education (from a marketing perspective)

The Coming Meltdown in Higher Education (from a marketing perspective)
Seth Godin: For 400 years, higher education in the United States has been on a
roll. From Harvard asking Galileo to be a guest professor in the
1600s to millions tuning in to watch a team of unpaid athletes play
another team of unpaid athletes in some college sporting event, the
amounts of time and money and prestige in the college world have
been climbing.
I’m afraid that’s about to crash and burn. Here’s how I’m looking at
it.
Most undergraduate college and university programs are
organized to give an average education to average
students.
Pick up any college brochure or catalog. Delete the brand names
and the map. Can you tell which college it is? While there are
outliers (like St. John’s College, in Maryland, Deep Springs College,
and Full Sail University), most colleges aren’t really outliers. They
are mass marketers.
Stop for a second and consider the impact of that choice. By
emphasizing mass and sameness and rankings, colleges have
changed their missions.
This works great in an industrial economy where we can’t churn
out standardized students fast enough, and where the demand is
huge because the premium earned by a college graduate dwarfs the
cost. But …
College has gotten expensive far faster than wages have
gone up.
As a result, millions of people are in very serious debt, debt so big
it might take decades to repay. Word gets around. Won’t get fooled
again.
This leads to a crop of potential college students who can (and will)
no longer just blindly go to the “best” school they get into.
The definition of “best” is under siege.
Why do colleges send millions (!) of undifferentiated pieces of junk
mail to high-school students now? We will waive the admission
fee! We have a one-page application! Apply! This is some of the
most amateur and bland direct mail I’ve ever seen. Why do it?
Biggest reason: So colleges can reject more applicants. The more
applicants they reject, the higher they rank in U.S. News and other
rankings. And thus the rush to game the rankings continues, which
is a sign that the marketers in question (the colleges) are getting
desperate for more than their fair share. Why bother making your
education more useful if you can more easily make it appear to be
more useful?
The correlation between a typical college degree and
success is suspect.
College wasn’t originally designed to be merely a continuation of
high school (but with more binge drinking). In many places,
though, that’s what it has become. The data I’m seeing show that a
degree (from one of those famous schools, with or without a
football team) doesn’t translate into significantly better career
opportunities, a better job, or more happiness than does a degree
from a cheaper institution.
Accreditation isn’t the solution, it’s the problem.
A lot of these ills are the result of uniform accreditation programs
that have pushed high-cost, low-return policies on institutions and
rewarded colleges that churn out young wannabe professors
instead of creating experiences that turn out leaders and problem
solvers.
Just as we’re watching the disintegration of old-school marketers
with mass-market products, I think we’re about to see significant
cracks in old-school colleges with mass-market degrees.
Back before the digital revolution, access to information was an
issue. The size of the library mattered. One reason to go to college
was to get access. Today that access is worth a lot less. The valuable
http://chronicle.com/article/The-Coming-Meltdown-in-High/65398/
The Coming Meltdown in Higher Education – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education
was to get access. Today that access is worth a lot less. The valuable
things that students take away from college are interactions with
great minds (usually professors who actually teach and actually
care) and non-class activities that shape them as people. The
question I’d ask: Is the money that mass-marketing colleges spend
on marketing themselves and making themselves bigger well
spent? Are they organizing for changing lives or for ranking high?
Does NYU have to get so much bigger? Why?
The solutions are obvious. There are tons of ways to get a cheap
liberal education, one that exposes you to the world, permits you to
have significant interactions with people who matter, and teaches
you to make a difference (see DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and
the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, by Anya
Kamenetz). Most of these ways, though, aren’t heavily marketed,
nor do they involve going to a tradition-steeped 200-year-old
institution with a wrestling team. Things like gap years, research
internships, and entrepreneurial or social ventures after high
school are opening doors for students who are eager to discover the
new.
The only people who haven’t gotten the memo are anxious
helicopter parents, mass-marketing colleges, and traditional
employers. And all three are waking up and facing new
circumstances.

Future-of-Colleges-and-Universities-549

Blueprint for a revolution

Seth Godin: For 400 years, higher education in the United States has been on a roll. From Harvard asking Galileo to be a guest professor in the 1600s to millions tuning in to watch a team of unpaid athletes play another team of unpaid athletes in some college sporting event, the amounts of time and money and prestige in the college world have been climbing.

I’m afraid that’s about to crash and burn. Here’s how I’m looking at it.

Continue reading… “The Coming Meltdown in Higher Education (from a marketing perspective)”

The Thing About ‘Free’

 Seth Godin on the topic of FREE

Seth Godin:   I posted an internship yesterday. The idea was to combine the “you pay to come” model of summer camp with the “we pay you to do low level work” of an internship to create a learning experience for students that was, split the difference, free. I felt like a free program would represent a combination of our effort and the interns.

Free, though, is not the average of paid and paid for. Free is something entirely different.

Continue reading… “The Thing About ‘Free’”