One of the things I love about our world is how we constantly in a state of flux. We change, adapt, evolve, just like little Pokemon characters.
A few months ago, people were comparing Covid-19 to things such as the Spanish flu which wiped out 100 million people. Today, for many people, it’s become somewhat of a joke; a hoax perpetrated on us by the invisible elite. I hope they’re right, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of our buddy corona. Nevertheless, people, colleges, businesses, and countries alike have started to adapt.
As a productivity consultant, I am always looking for new and creative ways to help my clients and over the past few months, like many of my clients, Covid-19 forced me to move 100% online. Thankfully, I had already been doing 20% of my work online, so the jump for me wasn’t tough. I wish I could say the same for some of my clients.
Talking to executives who were also parents, one common topic they brought up was what I thought about colleges doing online lessons. Having spent many years in the classroom before I made the move over to the consulting world, they wanted my input.
Essentially, they all wanted to know the answer to one simple question – “Are college classes online worth it?”
My answer – no.
Online meetings work. In fact, in many ways, they are much more effective than running in-person meetings for a variety of factors. So why don’t online lessons work? After all, aren’t they pretty much the same thing? Someone presents certain material and people listen and take notes with the occasional question here and there. They should, but studying is different.
In a meeting, people share a certain level of understanding of the material before they even walk through the door or hit accept on their screen. University classes especially in the first two years are made up of a variety of people with various backgrounds. There are those who have taken AP classes back in high school on the same subject matter or those people who have studied the language before. On the flip side, there are many people who have no idea what’s going on. About 5% will drop the class, another 30% don’t want to be there, but need to fill their requirements, another 30% will probably never touch the material again. So, in any given class, there’s only about 35% that are really serious about wanting to learn.
One of the greatest things about being in a classroom together with other students is the ability to meet new people, create friendships and potential study groups. That can’t happen with online classes. Especially, for freshmen who are literally just starting their college experience.
But those aren’t even the biggest problem. The elephant in the digital room is the price. Colleges are expensive. No one wants to pay $50,000 a semester to study online, not when you have this thing called YouTube. Heck, I once wrote an article about the value of books have which was featured in the Huffington Post.
Now you might just be thinking but that’s just your opinion. True, I’d advise anyone to do your own due diligence. In fact, that’s what I did. I reached out to my friends who have been teaching online to hear their thoughts.
I wish I could say they felt otherwise, but they had come to the same conclusion. Besides the obvious digital hiccups, going online was tough. You’d think it’s easy for teenagers who practically live online to adapt, but not all of them. Some struggled.
To begin with, you have the platform issue – PC, Mac, tablet, iPad? One friend spent 45 minutes on the phone with one student to get them all set up.
For one student.
Now imagine if you have 500 students. Yeah, it’s just not scalable.
On top of that, they found that students who were bad in class were even worse online. Students that were late for class because living off-campus, were just as late when all they had to do was roll over and turn on their computer. The lazy got lazier. The shy got shier.
Attendance suffered. Dropping day by day.
I’m all about helping my clients get more out of their time, energy, and most importantly, money. In good conscience, I can’t recommend paying a ton of money for big online lessons.
Private coaching, yes. It’s doable. A good teacher can make it work. I’ve made it work.
But for universities such as NYU or UCLA, that’s just not going to work and if you have to pay out of state fees, that would be a hard pass in my book.
There’s no harm in taking a semester off and getting some work experience, learning a new skill or hiring a private tutor to fill the gap. As I talked about last week, there’s always a price to be paid and in my opinion, at this present time, college just isn’t worth it.
It’s not all bad news though, 2021 is just six months away.
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