The degree is dead

The ‘degree’ based system in higher education is not adequately meeting the needs of our workforce

You took a $30,000 loan to purchase a car. After using the car for a few months, you estimate it breaks down roughly 40% of the time. You got a lemon. What would you do?

Return it and get your money back?

They won’t take it back.

How do you feel?

Cheated. Mislead. Stuck. Frustrated. Entitled — for something better.

This is what many college students feel upon graduating. Many enroll trustingly into school and after several years of work, and over $30K in debt — almost the same price as the Tesla model 3 — the results are abysmal.

On average, many degrees are lemons.

About 40% of college graduates from two-year schools, according to a study from McKinsey, feel college did not prepare them well for work. For college graduates from four-year schools about 30% did not feel prepared.

What do employers say? They say about 39% of graduates are inadequately prepared for work upon graduation.

Dig a little deeper and the story gets worse. About half of college graduates — 48% — end up in a job that does not require a college degree and is not related to their field of study.

Why do not we hold the same performance expectations for our universities and colleges as we do for every other product and service?
The college degree has become the single most commonly purchased underperforming luxury product.

No wonder millennials feel entitled upon graduating. Wouldn’t you?

“I sometimes use what I learned, but I did not need a degree” -Manager, Staples
“X” -Conor Lee, CEO of Hosty

The skill gap — the mismatch in what is taught in higher education and what the workforce needs — is getting worse. There are currently 7.8M of people out of work and 5.6M vacant jobs that are unfilled. As the economy evolves, the number of hybrid jobs — jobs requiring skills across job-categories — is increasing which is widening the mismatch between programs that are not integrating new skills quickly.

For example, from interviews conducted by our team at ALEX — Anyone’s Learning Experience, business analytics, social media marketing, and user experience design were among the top subjects learners struggled to find adequate course offerings within their institutions.

Our startup, ALEX, believes higher education should be freed. The courses offering the skills learners need are locked within programs and buried in websites designed to sell programs. Rather than continue under the mantra that the ‘administration knows best’ we believe people working in the field may actually have the best sense of what they need.

ALEX, is working with universities to create a marketplace that allows individuals to buy in-person courses one at a time, without enrolling in an entire degree program, and without the debt. Whether you have a degree and want to take a course in Data Science or you never went to college and want to take Introduction to Finance to help you launch your business, we are creating a place that helps people connect learning with their careers.

Not all courses in degree programs are preparing candidates for employment, but there is another way — higher education one course at a time, as it fits with people’s careers, and as they can afford it. You can help us build affordable pathways to jobs. ALEX is currently only in Boston, but you can sign-up here. The city with the most sign-ups will determine where ALEX goes next! Join us.

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