You’re going to begin seeing more empty classrooms on campus. There are some major changes coming for education, and they’re coming fast. If you have not been following the news and trends, then you probably don’t know anything about the current education crisis and the moves to correct it. You know that a large percentage of the nation’s graduates frequently default on their loans and you understand that student loans are higher than they should be, but what you don’t know is students are fighting back. Numerous graduates are choosing not to pursue graduate degrees after seeing the costs of undergraduate education. For the rest of students that do decide to pursue graduate degrees, they are pursuing online degrees. Odds are, it won’t take long for this online course popularity to peak and trickle down into the undergraduate curriculum.

If you have never heard of Udemy, then you should know that this is one of the largest assets for your personal and professional growth. Udemy offers affordable online classes for a wide variety of subjects. Udemy got a bad reputation with many professionals when it first launched for allowing anyone to create an online course with low prerequisites. In recent years, however, it has made it easier than ever to find reputable educational resources to use for your development. To find the class that’s right by you, that’s taught by a reputable source, follow these short steps:

  1. Check the ratings: You want to look for courses with literally hundreds if not thousands of ratings and reviews. Actually read some of these reviews. Check the 5 starts, the 1 stars, and everything in between. Look for common complaints, “the course was great, I just wish he had more experience in the subject matter.” Reviews like these are red flags.
  2. Do your research: Research the actual person offering the course. During your research, look for LinkedIn accounts, social media accounts, mentions in academic articles, publicly listed curriculum vitae, or literally anything else that could help you determine if this source is legitimate. This will help you establish just how well-known this person is within the realm in which they are teaching. Many courses are taught by actual professors or former professors at universities. This makes it easier to determine if they are legitimate.
  3. ALWAYS preview the course. Each course you are looking into should allow you to preview it. This means you actually get to sit there and watch a couple of lessons from that course. This will help you determine if the person teaching the course knows what they’re talking about, as well as if their voice will drive you crazy (yes, I will not choose a course if I can’t stand a lecturer’s voice. I didn’t have this option in college so give me a break!). TIP: Be very wary if the course only offers you a preview of one lecture. This could be a smoke screen to entice you to purchase the course to find out more, only to discover it is not at all what you thought it would be. Thankfully due to the ratings, reviews, and policies within Udemy I have yet to find a course that was a product of this.

Udemy is a fantastic resource to keep around because it also allows you lifetime access to the courses you have purchased. I don’t know ANY university that offers this same deal to courses you have taken through them. The best part? Udemy is not alone in the market of offering affordable online education. Other platforms for affordable online education include: Class Central, Coursera, Khan Academy, Code Academy, TED-Ed, Academic Earth, edX, Alison, iTunes U (free courses), LessonPaths, Memrise, Stanford Online, and Harvard Extension, Open Yale Courses, UC Berkeley Class Central, MIT OpenCourseWare, and the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative. There are far more out there, but this is just to give you an idea of how many FREE platforms exist to provide you with top-notch education without paying tuition.

Individuals can expect to get the equivalent of an MBA in knowledge from courses taken through these platforms. The current trend in the world right now is students are deferring attending universities and instead choosing to attend online schools. MBA programs are being cut from universities all over the country. The Wall Street Journal reported a 9% decline in the number of full-time MBA programs from 2014-2018. Most of these universities are choosing to offer online programs and specialty business masters instead.

Graduate degrees have been linked to being the major contributor to the current student debt crisis. The main reason for this is there are caps on the amount a student can borrow for an undergraduate degree but there are no hard caps for graduate degrees. This translates to, “come get your post-grad degree with us, we will let you borrow as much as you want!”

Many degrees are generating debt substantially larger than the post-grad earnings, making it next to impossible to pay off this debt. According to the Department of Education data, the University of South California’s social work master’s students graduated with approximately $109,000 in loans but these grads earned less than $50,000 a year. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see the numbers aren’t adding up to build a solid economy.

The total student loan debt in the country grows each day and at the moment towers above $1.5 trillion. According to the New York Times, 1 million people are defaulting on their student loan debt every year. When you consider how many thousands of dollars you will likely pay for a university education, to take classes on an inflexible schedule, you begin to see why this trend is occurring.

Considering that many of the courses on Udemy are taught by actual professors and other qualified experts in that particular subject, you are likely to learn more from these classes than your whole college experience. The science behind this study is that these online platforms offer you the classes you are actually interested in taking without requiring you take useless “core” curriculum classes and waste more money.

The courses offered allow you to completely immerse yourself in the subject matter, provide numerous resources and assignments, and they offer you the advantage of Lifetime access to most courses. The problem with universities and colleges is you forget more than half the information you previously learned before you even graduate. You’re learning this information for the purposes of passing tests, rather than to gain knowledge on that subject matter.

My personal prediction is that online course offerings from places like Udemy, Coursera, and more will begin to be seen as equivalent to the courses offered at universities. I predict that these online platforms will begin to offer associates, bachelors, and master’s degrees at an affordable price. This will change the entire dynamic of educational enterprise by offering the exact same information for a fraction of the costs. This, in turn, will result in numerous colleges and universities disappearing from the face of the earth.

Businesses, companies, and hiring managers are no longer going to give a rip if you got your degree from an “accredited” university. Employers do not care now what your GPA was in college. In fact, I have never been asked in any interview what my GPA was in college. Employers just want to know the candidate for the job is well-educated. Degrees will be expected like high school diplomas are today. But there will be far less pressure to put yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Owners of companies, supervisors, human resources, and managers have observed the clear correlation between an employee’s sense of work/life balance and their work performance. If an employee does not feel as if she has options to do other things in her spare time due to financial strain, she will be more inclined to resent her current job and look for employment elsewhere. If employees are not living thousands of dollars in debt from college education, they are more inclined to feel better and have more options.

People are going to start quickly learning that they can get as much from a YouTube video as they can from an in person classroom setting. The fact that these YouTube videos are posted to the internet and can be re-visited and re-watched at their leisure is merely a large bonus feature. The reason employers are going to prefer an online education from places like Udemy is because it places a larger focus on more practical applications of the subject matter rather than the theory or historical basis of the subject matter. Not that those areas are not important, but employers want their new employees as prepared as possible to hit the ground running with as little training as possible when they first arrive at a company.

Udemy classes offer a physical hands on approach in most of their classes. This education is going to build a more skilled and experienced workforce. These new candidates will receive preferential treatment when it comes to the job application process. An individual will watch the instructor teach the lesson, carry out an experiment, and then the instructor challenges that individual to conduct the same experiment in the form of an assignment. Most courses include quizzes focused on course comprehension. The people teaching these classes are not doing it to maintain tenure, they are doing it because they have a genuine love for teaching people about a subject they are passionate about.

The prediction for the future of education is that there will be very few jobs that will degrees from accredited universities. Likely, the only jobs that will continue to request a degree from a university or college will be doctors, chemists, and MAYBE attorneys, although that could be seen as taking a turn towards the Udemy/online market as well. The point is this wave is only getting started, and it’s only going to grow bigger with time. Either universities will rise to meet the wave and evolve with the times, or they will be crushed by the weight of the wave and wiped into extinction.

For many individuals, the prospect of sitting in a coffee shop, receiving a college education is far more appealing than being stuck in a classroom. The freedom and flexibility that comes with online learning is that you choose when to sit down and take your courses. If you don’t want to take a class early in the morning, you don’t have to! There are hundreds of advantages to online learning.

With that being said, facing a financial crisis of student loan debt or fearing the costs of receiving higher education is not an excuse that you get to use to cop out on the rest of your life. Now, education is more affordable than ever before. You do not need an accredited degree from a university to educate yourself on a new skill and hone your other skills. YouTube, podcasts, and numerous online courses are offered to you FREE OF CHARGE! Libraries are still around you know. You can check out however many books you need from the library, free of charge. Don’t have access to a computer to take these online classes, guess what the library also has? That’s right, computers, with internet access. You literally have no excuse.

Even if you have your college degree, you should continue your learning. There is a reason why professions like law enforcement, real estate, personal trainers, and medical staff have requirements for employees to participate in continual learning. We never know all there is to know, and most professions are ever-changing.

Even if you’re not interest in continuing learning for your current job, you can still work on yourself. Take a course, read a book, watch a video, or listen to a podcast about anything! Just get started bettering yourself. There are online classes on keynote speaking, graphic design, meditation, writing, photography, communication, relationships, mental health, and nearly anything else you can imagine. The sky is the limit, but you have a responsibility to yourself, your future, and society to continually strive to be the best version of yourself. Stop making excuses and get out there!

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