Would you Pay Just 100 Dollars for a College Degree? – Udacity and Online Education

Say the words ‘college degree’ and people will likely conjure up a few thoughts.  The most obvious is that of an increased ability to qualify for and find employment as well as to increase your overall salary.  But another aspect of it that most will think of is the high costs.  Tens of thousands of dollars are needed to earn a college degree through traditional universities, something that is off-putting to many people.

But just as online and distance education have begun to change the educational world, today the company Udacity is changing how we perceive degrees and their cost.  More specifically, Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun is planning on offering Master’s Degrees for one hundred bucks.  Does that sound like it’s something you’d be interested in?  He’s betting that it is, though there are compelling arguments for both sides of the discussion.  First of all, however, it’s worth a quick review of the basics of what Udacity is.

  • Udacity was formed by Sebastian Thrun with the intention of revolutionizing higher education.
  • It offers numerous college level courses through a system of videos, quizzes, and hands on projects instead of just long, boring video lectures.
  • For example, during the initial computer science program you will go through the steps and actually create a working search engine.  This way you’ll learn computer programming by doing.
  • While currently no actual degrees are awarded that are recognized by employers, you can pay a small fee and earn certification that can very well lead to a promotion or better job opportunity.
  • Now Thrun is introducing the idea of offering an actual Master’s degree for one hundred dollars.

Udacity has already turned a lot of heads, and obviously this new plan is turning even more.  There are plenty of advantages to earning a degree the Udacity way, including:

  • The price, obviously.  No college out there can match the cost of a one hundred dollar Master’s Degree, let alone all the free programs offered.
  • Convenience is a big factor as well.  Since you can participate in the programs whenever you like, you can log in and get some work done whenever it’s convenient for you, not when a professor says you have to.
  • There are also no real prerequisites, at least for the certification programs.  Anyone who wants to learn will be able to do so.  Of course, the Master’s Degree program may have prerequisites.
  • The programs are all taught by some of the nation’s very best instructors, so you’ll be learning from a true expert in the field.
  • But you won’t just be learning from them.  You’ll be learning with them, essentially, since you get to actually complete projects.

So while there are plenty of advantages, there are obviously some drawbacks that critics are quick to point out.  These include:

  • The fact that there is no accreditation.  Without accreditation there is no quality control on the curriculum.  Many employers simply won’t accept a certificate or degree without accreditation.
  • That fact also makes it impossible to use any skills you learn from Udacity for transferring into a different program at a traditional school.
  • There is no structure in place beyond the initial listing.  Students can skip around if they like, which experts claim could have an impact on their overall level of comprehension.
  • With no live instructor present to discuss issues or ask questions to, the level of expertise a degree earned through Udacity is very much up for debate.

Obviously the choice will be up to you, and there are plenty of reasons for or against Udacity and its upcoming one hundred dollar degree.  But most agree that online education is the future of higher learning, no matter how much traditional campuses may resist it.  Udacity could be just the first of many to lead the charge into a brave new world of online learning.