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It Sounds Good Doesn’t It?

January 21, 2015

Two years of free community college.  Get your AA for the simple price of books (wait, those are expensive!) and transportation.  Who couldn’t love that?

Ideas that sound great often aren’t.  Look across America at our high schools. There are some great students in great schools and there are a lot of students who simply don’t care or struggle to make it through. What two years of free college will be is really just two more years tacked onto high school.  I’d guess, if this actually goes into practice, someone will realize that scrapping community college campuses entirely and just adding two more classes to the high school will save money. Which is good, because already low instructor pay at CCs will become even lower.

And what about the impact on four-year universities? That is, what used to be four-year universities. Who will pay for a four-year program when they can get the first two years free? Universities will eventually become two-year universities.

The truth is, students paying for college protects colleges, teachers and students. Free students are unmotivated students. School becomes a nice way to put off the real world for some, provide a sad, dumbed-down AA for motivated students, and instructors will have a much higher class load, more classroom management issues and a vast spread of motivation and talent in their classes. And lower pay.  Universities would be hard-pressed to accept such an AA for their BA programs. This is a loser all the way around.

It’s not helpful to complain without offering a solution. I propose a new on-line degree program. It’s free, it’s study at your own pace and when you’re done, you get a DA or Digital of Arts degree, presuming you passed the tests and scored well on activities.  Universities can accept the DA as credit to a BA or require an entrance exam. A paid AA would exist and mean you did at least some of it at the school and BA programs would have to accept it.

Developing the coursework wouldn’t be all that difficult or expensive (relatively speaking). The learning management system infrastructure would be the primary expense, and course proctors (who grade projects, activities, exams, etc.) could be part- or full-time accredited teachers who work from home.

Everybody wins. It’s better than spiraling costs of school.

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