Since then, I taught college courses for a dozen years. I did my best to ensure that the students enrolled in my courses got lots of takeaway value from my instructional designs. I could not, in good conscience, merely cover the material, test students on the assigned reading, or give lectures that were as boring to give as to receive. But I saw the results of other classes they endured and heard some of their horror stories. Many students were getting a degree without getting an education. The only thing they would have to show for their 4+ years of academic credits was their diploma and transcript -- all credential with no credibility!
I suspect the increasing number of college dropouts is partly the result of this failure to provide an education. It becomes evident to enrolled students that they are getting no value beyond the piece of paper at the end of the line. It no longer appears worth the phenomenal expense, long term debt and anxiety while attending college. I believe many of those dropouts who dropped out to minimize the rip-off still desire a real education. If they cannot get both a degree and an education, they will settle for a useful, customized and experiential education.
This morning I notified the Penn/Milken contest administrators of my intention to submit an executive summary and business plan to "provide an affordable second chance to the growing number of college dropouts". I have in mind a social learning system that will provide a very valuable and enduring education without the credentials they've already lost hope of attaining. I will argue this is a far better bargain than those college graduates who walk away with the reverse result: the diploma without an education.