Democratization of Knowledge and the Fall of College

August 24, 2012 / Education

What did you actually learn in college? I’m not talking about what you learned while you were there, but what you learned in the part that you paid for – the classroom. There lies the problem.

College tuition is outrageously expensive. The cost of a college degree has risen more than 430 percent since 1982. That would be acceptable if the quality of education had more than quadrupled; however, it has done quite the opposite. There has never been a worse time to be a college graduate in all of history. According to The New York Times nearly 45 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed, or working a job that does not require a college degree.

So, where does that leave us? Why does this happen?

People go to college, because society is convinced that college plus good grades equals success. The math will never add up. Michael Ellsberg recently wrote a book about The Education of Millionaires in which he interviews 39 people that have one single common denominator – they either never went, graduated or excelled in college. Can 35 millionaires and four billionaires be wrong about success?

Universities have been the gate keepers to knowledge for the last century. If you wanted to expand your intellectual horizon, they were the place to go. However, a lot changes in a century.

The democratization of knowledge by technology has changed everything about learning. Colleges no longer hold the keys to information. I have spent hours learning JavaScript and sharpening my CSS on Codecademy, and will be starting a Coursea sustainability class next week – all for free.

Education has become a commodity. Technology has flattened the playing field, and given an advantage to the ever-curious.


The Democratization of Knowledge and the Fall of College is an article from the archives.