Peer pressure is what brought you here. Everyone in your grade is picking a university. You have your doubts but do you really want to be the one kid that doesn’t go? Do you want to tell everyone that university is a waste of money and time? Everyone will likely assume that you couldn’t get in. Even if they don’t, you are still an outcast. Just the question “where are you headed next year” will drive you insane. Plus – and this is the greatest pushfactor by far – you will miss out on the fantasies you have about campus life. Frosh week, drinking, sex and all that. So you end up going. You meet people, make friends and it’s great. But why are you actually here?
“A job!” Maybe because all the current employers took the university path. You can’t get hired unless you’ve lived like the boss. Imagine going into an interview for an engineering job and telling the boss: “I have not gone to university but I have studied and learnt every necessary skill for this job. I am just as well-equipped to work for you as someone with a handful of professors’ seal of approval.” Good luck with that. Bosses want to see that Xring for example. They want you to reek of student debt and beg you for work. They want you to be desperate just like they were in their twenties. It’s the “hazing” equivalent in the professional world.
Maybe you’re here for the knowledge. Well, everything you learn here is in a textbook or online. The professor tells you what to read then repeats it back in class, usually in a more disorganized way. Then they test you to make sure you’re learning the way they want you to. I have had professors spout on about Trump for half of their lecture. Anyways, you’re paying everything you own to have a professor judge how well you’ve memorized their textbooks. Paying to see how well your theories and knowledge matches up with theirs. Then you pat each other on the shoulder. Am I here to get high-fives from my teachers?
It doesn’t matter what program you’re in. “My dad really wanted me to go into business. I didn’t want to waste his money.” If you need to spend four years to learn how to ‘network’ then you’re probably missing the point. If you’re learning to code, do you really think the best way is to have a professor and his textbooks play catch-up with the relevant coding scene? Sure, he can teach you the basics, but so can you yourself. One textbook of information per eight months is a joke compared to the capabilities of the internet. The sole reason textbooks exist is for the huge profit margins. There is no reason why your curriculum can’t be available for free online, just like ‘Khan Academy’. Calculus is not copyrighted. Shakespeare is not copyrighted.
“What about the laboratories?” or “what about the university experience?” Here’s my solution. The university becomes a sort of community centre. People can pay to book laboratory time, as they need it. The “university” can rent out more sophisticated equipment for higher prices. Classrooms are large open forums with computers. The computers can be rented or you can bring your own laptop, or books, or whatever. You don’t pay to sit as a class. People just meet up in groups naturally to study what they need to. If you don’t know something, you learn it. People who are more experienced would teach those who are less experienced like independent contractors. If what they’re teaching you is wrong in your opinion, then you take your business elsewhere. You are not locked down for eight months; you can come and go as you please. A “university” community would develop naturally. Clubs and sports teams would create themselves, as they do in the real world at places like the YMCA. People would live with other students of their own age and share their interests naturally. We need a free market of learning, not some out-dated business model. Like any other industry, technology will pass it by. The only question is “when?”