While I didn’t vote for Bernie, I could listen to the dude talk all day long. The cadence, the conviction, the passion – I admire him.  However, I might disagree with him on many issues.  He is literally a socialist who ran as a democrat.

Before anyone says “socialism is evil!” – we already have a mixed system.  So pipe down.  The question then is, should we now make college free?  How could we satisfy the end result, but do it in a cost-effective way?

Well….nothing is free.  Someone’s tax money is paying for it.  So if this was implemented, my taxes are going through the roof – and colleges are getting rich beyond belief, passing on their yearly high rate increases to me.   What will happen with this then is this:

  • more and more people would want to go to these colleges
  • demand goes way up, and these colleges jack their prices up
  • institutions build more brick and mortar
  • taxes go up to pay for this

Now – getting more people educated is a good thing, I just disagree with how they plan to do this.

My solution is simple, cost effective, and could be implemented within 2 years.  A “free” online university for anyone who wants it, to be used in lieu of a 2 year community college.  Before you say, ‘online is shit’ – no, it’s not.  It’s different, but it’s challenging in its own way.  I went to both brick and mortar and online, and they both have their own merits and drawbacks.

Here is my proposal….

  1. Any student who wants to, will be given the option of an additional 2 years of education beyond high school in 60 college credits which will transfer into any state-run school.  If states do not accept the credits, we pull back all of their funding.  Private schools will then have to compete with this, and have to honor these credits or miss out on tons of students.
  2. Any student who completes the 60 credits will be extended a loan for classes at any state run school of their choosing, to include books, food, and housing at 4%.
  3. An “online university of the United States” shall be established.  This will support millions of students.  The cost for this is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the cost of giving taxpayer monies to greedy colleges.
  4. Lectures are recorded and used across dozens or hundreds of sections of the same class for scalability.  Lectures can be viewed at any times during the week.
  5. Classes are usually most of the basics.  English, maths, foreign languages, programming, business, GED, etc.
  6. Associates degrees will be awarded and will be accredited the same as any community college in the country.
  7. This will drive down student debt.  Why?  Because they will only have to take 2 years of college classes at a state school to get a bachelor’s degree.  Loans are given to those who complete the 2 year degree only, so the risk of student not completing is lower.
  8. Students will be more informed about “return on investment” and managing their money, as it is the first class required for the university as a 1 credit class.  While schools may have wanted me to knit a blanket or weld a car together, none of my schools dealt with any form of personal finance.
  9. Cheap “zero” devices will be given out to students that qualify who are financially strapped and their online costs will be subsidized.   Nothing will be on the computer, and the computer will boot into a virtual desktop.  This will give any student access to get into the system.
  10. Students who score in the top x % in this system (perhaps 2-5%?) will be given access to a cadre of scholarships for free or reduced state college for the bachelor’s.
  11. The operative word here is “leveraging”.  Where you can find efficiencies across multiple sections like lectures, tutorials, etc, use it.
  12. Students will test at the onset to determine section codes.  This allows them to be in sections with persons with like skills and time zones, so tutorials and lectures can be more customized for them and any team events would be in the same time zone.  This allows those with high level math skills on the east coast to be placed in section Omega and those who are slower at math from the Pacific to be placed in a Theta section.  Students will not know how their sections rank, but will have end objectives that are similar in all sections.
  13. There will be a “returning students” section for all of those who started college previously but never finished, where many of their credits can transfer in.  This could give a person an associates degree in as little as 3-6 months if they have already finished a decent amount of college.
  14. Down the road, there can be specialist courses.  For example, in most technical IT work, you do not need any formal education, but you need skills.  You could have a 6-12 month program on how to program in Java, which could teach you basics of computer systems, programming languages, etc.  This could also be used for other trades that don’t require degrees but might need 3-6 months of training (I know my dad did a realtor training at PSU for like 4 months).
  15. While these classes are offered and an associates is available – students will have to earn it and classes will be challenging.  It’s possible graduation rates will be very low, but students will be able to come back and try again with no costs.  Perhaps 2 years down the road, a student is in a better place to complete the degree and tries again.
  16. There is an ROI to taxpayers here.  For example, if this costs $2 billion a year to run, you may increase wages for your people due to being able to get higher paying jobs.  When your people are working higher paying jobs, they pay more in taxes.  A lot more.   So, this is something to look into and invest in your people, but do it in a cost-efficient way.

 

The sky is the limit with this.  But, this should get anyone who wants it, an associates degree with access to state schools bachelor programs.  In 5-10 years, most state schools should have online options for a lot of their bachelor’s programs.  This could increase enrollment while driving down costs (brick and mortar costs do not increase).

 

 

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