Sunday, May 13, 2012

education conformity

Bryan Caplan laments that online education won't be able to take off quickly because getting an education online is a strong signal of non-conformity, whereas one of the primary purposes of a traditional college education is to signal conformity.

Fortunately, he's forgetting about a large-and-growing demographic for whom this does not apply. The former college graduates. People who made the wrong major choice in college (the philosophy majors, e.g.) or who want to change careers later in life (the admirably-proactive victims of outcourcing, e.g.) are great candidates for online education. They can put non-traditional degrees on their resum├ęs and, rather than signalling non-conformity, they signal a drive to keep learning and build real skills after the traditional conformist path has already been completed. Over time, whatever respect employers have for those credentials of those people will extend even to others who skip the initial traditional path.

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