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Five Pillars for Education in the Next Decade

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I continue to hear stories of new colleges popping up all over the place. By that I mean they're popping up all over the world.

Anyone looking for a new experience in higher education?

The Minerva Schools, which are part of the Keck Graduate Institute, now offer a student a chance to take classes and travel the world, immersing them in local culture in cities such as Hong Kong, Cape Town and Mumbai at cut-rate costs. This makes it incredibly attractive to young adults. Other entrepreneurial schools offer post-secondary education online for free and, consequently, have attracted hundreds of thousands of students. Whether or not they offer an official degree, they're causing traditional schools to re-examine their model for school.

First-year students at the Minerva Schools don't focus on traditional liberal arts classes such as humanities or economics, but rather on cornerstone skills such as theoretical analysis, data analysis, and communication. They require a level of maturity from students, determination and self-direction. It's a project being funded with $25 million in venture capital from investors who believe our current education system is broken.

Some of these investors actually come from the higher education world.

Five Essentials for Tomorrow's Education

Over the next decade, it appears there are five non-negotiables that both students and their families (read: parents) want in a higher ed experience:

1. Quality

I am hearing more and more from parents and students that their current school experience is sub-par; when they compare it to other like schools, it seems inferior. People are comparing schools like crazy and they know what "excellent" looks like.

2. Accessibility

So far, education has been far more accessible to the rich than to the poor; to the student living in suburbia than the one living in urban "ghettos." Education must have a price tag, but we must find a way for anyone who's ready for it to get it.

3. Customization

So many retailers have found a way to service a huge population and still customize the product or experience for their customer. Education must follow suit. Students want to feel their preparation has been tailored for their needs and aspirations.

4. Affordability

The biggest complaint against higher education today is the cost. Attending college has become the second most expensive purchase we make, behind buying a home. And there is no guarantee of a job at the end. Schools must balance value and cost.

5. Relevant

So many experts tell us we are currently not educating any student with an "end game" in mind. Classrooms and faculty continue the same way they have in the past, yet students graduate into jobs that didn't even exist when they were freshmen.

The bottom line?

We must embrace disruption in education. We must become more pragmatic, which means we continue with the rigors of scholarly learning experience, but insure the classroom is preparing them for the world of tomorrow, the one they'll spend their careers in and navigate for those behind them.

I am saddened when I meet faculty -- in high schools or colleges -- who are so beaten up and so weary of the system, they've gotten stuck in their ways. They are in survival mode and look forward to weekends, not students' achieving goals.

Some believe we are on the verge of an education revolution, just as transportation, technology and other industries have experienced over the last 20 years. If this is true, we must lead the change, not merely react to it.

Your thoughts?