Online courses could become the new norm for millennials, in a time when a college education is no longer a guarantee for a well-paying career. Many of the most powerful companies have been started by those who chose to drop out of college — Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook, Evan Williams with Twitter, and Kevin Rose with Digg. So who could blame young people for wanting to follow in their footsteps, using online courses to aid them?
The allure of online courses is getting stronger, with more elite universities offering them, like Harvard, M.I.T, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford, just to name a few. For students frustrated with large lectures and encroaching student debt, online courses that offer no official credit seems like a desirable option.
However online learning isn’t everyone’s forte, and not every student has the skills to turn that unofficial credit into an attractive skill set for an employer. Whether or not a student should drop out of college and/or rely solely on online courses to prepare for a career depends entirely upon the student.
If someone has a specific idea for an invention or application then direct pursuit of that venture might be the best option over attending university. But for students who aren’t the entrepreneurial type, a degree might be the best route. If someone has an idea that he or she believes in and is willing to suffer through rejections and lost time to make it successful, then maybe that is the best route for that person.
A student should know their strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to make hard decisions. If you know that you may not have the drive or the specific directional passion that it would take to create a prospering career for yourself without college, then college may be the best way to go for you. It’s never black and white with these things, but each person should assess their educational and career pursuits like only they can.
Online courses can be exactly what the college dropout needs to be successful — basic knowledge and mastery of otherwise lesser known skills, and just enough marketability to retrieve an entry level position. Or they maybe even could aquire the basic skills needed to bring about a revolutionary idea.
In those cases, official credit for a course isn’t really necessary. What matters is that the individual learned skills that can be applied to a career, since that is why employers want their employees to have an education in the first place. Who cares what form someone got the information from, right? So for a millennial looking for a way to launch the next big thing, maybe the time and money needed to attend college isn’t necessary. And soon, maybe college won’t be necessary for anyone anymore.