I read Kevin Carey’s The End of College, a surprisingly controversial book. Carey lists the flaws of American higher education and predicts how “creative destruction” will upend it. These predictions have sent many lovers of learning into a tizzy.
But what is so surprising? Technology disrupts every industry — why would education be different? Carey can get a tad utopian, but he has the right idea.
Carey envisions a new “University of Everywhere,” with cheap access to the world’s best education. The four-year-and-done model will be replaced by lifetime partnerships with educators, very few of which will resemble the current university.
I’ve wondered why education for many professionals stops after graduation. In my role as a business analyst, it is critical to stay knowledgeable on current trends in business and tech. With constant innovation, education can’t stop after college.
“The End of College” will change how analysts work and study — mostly for the better. Because paradoxically, the “End of College” means more education. Here’s how:
- The four-year degree won’t be a prerequisite. Outside of perhaps tech, most every analyst job requires a four-year degree. Why? Because until recently, it was the only way to signal that one would be a good fit as an analyst. Now there are many ways. Take a MOOC. Start a blog. College-to-career is not a one-to-one transaction: with alternatives available, the connection will fade.
- The distinction between education and recruiting will blur. Carey predicts that by offering courses online for free, top universities will be able to recruit students from anywhere, not just from elite American high schools. He gives the example of a Mongolian teenager with a top score on an MIT course who was later brought on campus to study. Something similar will happen for analysts: education will tie directly into analyst recruitment. TakeLinkedIn’s purchase of Lynda.com as an example. Imagine recruiters being able to check out what programming languages or stats courses an analyst has taken. Or job-seekers taking courses based on the needs of a specific industry.
- Continuous training will be required. Carey sees the four-year degree replaced by continuous training and certification. Some of this will be delivered by conventional universities, others by institutions yet to be created. The analyst can benefit from this change. Technology evolves so rapidly that the new analyst must be a permanent student.
- The MBA will lose its status. This is a corollary to the previous points, but worth mentioning. The MBA is the equivalent of a terminal degree for business. This concept is at odds with the University of Everywhere. The MBA will exist — but it will lose its status as the business degree. Expect business schools to shift their curriculum toward shorter, more focused programs. Instead of an MBA, look for more MS programs in marketing, finance, etc., and even shorter certificate programs in topics like analytics or project management.
- Average is Over. Okay, I borrowed this from Tyler Cowen’s book. But there is a connection between his thesis and Carey’s. The four-year degree will no longer be a guaranteed passport to a comfortable living. There are better ways to show one’s worth. Cowen sees the workforce diverging into an elite group of computer-savvy creators and a near-subsistence level lower class of everyone else. Gone are the days of hard-coded spreadsheets and leisurely report-running for analysts. Computers will be able to do this. The analyst’s job will be to work with the computer — else the computer will take his place
Many lifelong students have panned this book — but they should rejoice. As an analyst, I am thrilled for these changes. The role requires a growing knowledge of business, IT, and more — a scope far greater than can be covered with a four-year degree. The University of Everywhere is the way to become a better analyst.
Do you agree with these trends? How might they affect your industry or career?
Photo courtesy Gratisography.