Going to college right after high school used to be the standard expectation and part of the ultimate American dream. As a society, we’ve gone from undereducated, hard-working communities, to a population with access to more education than we could utilize in our lifetimes, but difficulty finding jobs in our field. Now, the tide is turning again to change our priorities and the way we achieve our educational goals.
Right now, 81% of Americans believe that education is shifting to autodidacticism. An autodidact is a person who is partially or completely self-taught. Some of the most famous autodidacts are Fredrick Douglas, Frida Kahlo, and Steve Jobs. There are many examples of highly successful autodidacts, which is one of the many reasons that over half of Gen Zs don’t believe that college degrees are necessary for success.
Overall, the higher education system has been declining in popularity for many years. One reason for this is that the cost is just too overwhelming and the return on investment no longer makes sense for every student. College costs have tripled in less than 20 years and the average student is still paying off student loans 20 years down the road. Add this to the fact that 73% of college graduates don’t end up working in their field, and the logic of getting a standard college degree just doesn’t add up for everyone.
Thankfully, standardized methods are far from the only way to get college-level education. In this age of information, there are many online resources, including free courses directly from universities. It’s entirely possible to become fully educated in your area of interest by getting a college education online for free.