YouTube University: A College Alternative

Google University and the Pandemic have changed how people view education and student loans.

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Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

YouTube University: Why go to College?

  • UTOPIA
  • Science Fiction vs. Reality
  • Cost of Attendance for a Traditional College (during the Pandemic)
  • Enter a New Player: Google
  • Self Education University

UTOPIA

Picture an advance civilization, where no one has to borrow money to finance an education. No money is owed, no money is loaned. A society where the mere idea of student loans is taboo, unusual, extraordinary!

Why would anyone need to borrow money to receive an education?

In Utopia, the education system is so affordable that maintaining an hourly-paid, retail job covers a student’s tuition, school supplies, and living expenses.

How is that possible?

Course and degree requirements are simplified — translating into the cost-saving measures passed down to the students. In fact, classes start at $49 per month (instead of $10,000 per month — more on this later).

Students pay their tuition on a monthly basis — until they have satisfied the program’s curriculum. Programs can be completed in 6 months.

This lean approach to education opens doors for classes of Utopian society to advance. The only requirement? Sweat equity and determination.

But, there is more —

College students are not required to complete coursework that is irrelevant to their majors. Meaning if a student chooses the Data Science field, then the university only requires the completion of Data Science courses.

There is no need to spend unnecessary hours learning unrelated disciplines like Language Arts, Organic Chemistry, or Zoology.

Upon commencement ceremonies, numerous employers scramble to offer their best perks to graduates — who are so well-equipped, their productivity can be measured during their first month of employment.

In the end, the employers are happy, the employees are happy, and Utopia’s economy thrives.

Science Fiction vs. Reality

This description may seem like a scene from a Science Fiction film, but it is not. This Utopian example is from America in the 1950s, and it foreshadows the future of education.

How is that true?

In the 1950s, the higher education system did not have so much…bloatware. It was an affordably-lean system, focusing on educational quality and not corporate profits. Take U-Penn (a Private Ivy League University) as an example:

According to the University of Pennsylvania Archives, complied by Mark Lloyd:

The ANNUAL TUITION (2 Semesters) at U-Penn in 1950 was:

Undergraduate: $600 + $25 (Fees)

Graduate: $500–600 + $25

Law: $600 + $20

Medicine: $700 + $20

Veterinary Medicine: $425 + $20

Social Work: $500 + $20

*The average annual income in the year 1950 was $3,210.

The low tuition costs and high relative wages of the 1950s meant households could afford to send their children to colleges—including Ivy League Universities. It also meant students could finance their educations through part-time work.

Why borrow tens of thousands of dollars each semester, when your tuition tops-out at a few hundred?

Fast forward to 2020, the 1950 era seems like Science Fiction.

Americans now owe trillions of dollars in student loan debt, and Universities are relentlessly raising tuition costs — faster than the rate of inflation. Each year students fall further behind in their financial well-being.

However, change is in the air.

YouTube University: Chart showing a dramatic drop in outstanding credit card debt in the US. Biggest drop in 16 years.
New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax | Statista | YouTube Unveristy

After the COVID-19 Pandemic, there was a shift in conventional wisdom. Individuals awoke with a new sense of financial responsibility, questioning all forms of liabilities, including credit cards, mortgages, and student loans.

Why was it acceptable to borrow money for 4 years of education— when it would take 10–15 years to pay it off?

During the Pandemic, the college system tipped their hands by changing their cost structures. As in-person classrooms were closed and lectures transferred to Zoom meetings, universities refused to offer even the most modest of discounts to their students.

THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE!

Students realized their respected universities weren’t education-focused institutions, rather profit-seeking corporations.

A compelling example of a profit-seeking university is the University of Southern California.

Cost of Attendance at a Traditional State College

Since it inception in 1880, USC has produced dozens of Rhodes scholars, noble laureates, and Academy Award winners.

YouTube University: Picture of USC Statue
Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash | USC Statue | YouTube University

Based on their alumni success, one would assume — USC is an education system designed for the betterment of their student body.

However, examining the 2021 estimated USC tuition rates (published on the USC website), a different narrative emerges.

A story of a multi-billion dollar corporation that has raised tuition costs by over 7% in 2 years — faster than the rate of inflation.

Cost of Attendance: University Southern California

Undergraduate Courses — 2 semesters during 2020–2021:

Tuition: $59,260

Fees: $1,015

Housing: $9,327

Dining/meals: $6,110

Books and supplies: $1,200

Personal and miscellaneous: $1,598

Transportation: $553

Total: $79,063*

*Total does not include a $450 fee for new students

After four years of attendance, a student can expect to pay $316,702 for their education — with no guarantees of a degree or a job.

Even if a job is secured, all of the incurred costs and loans hinder an individual’s financial future. This debacle translates into a societal shift — resulting in fewer marriages, fewer homes purchased, and small retirement savings.

Meanwhile, universities like USC have never been wealthier.

How much money is USC collecting through its undergraduate program?

  • 20,500 undergraduate students x $59,260 in tuition = $1,214,830,000

USC is collecting an estimated $1.2 Billion dollars from its students enrolled in the undergraduate program. This figure does include graduate, Ph.D., medical school, or law students.

But, just when you thought a few billion dollars per year was enough —

In early 2020, Americans witnessed USC and other university programs apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP program). USC was awarded $20 Million in Federal Government assistance through PPP.

When there was a public outcry against USC accepting Federal Small Business funds, the university responded by referring to its generosity with students.

Charging nearly $60k per year does not seem generous.

Enter a New Player: Google

According to an Inc. article written by Justin Bariso, Google has initiated…

“A collection of courses designed to help participants get qualifications in high-paying, high-growth job fields without attending university.

The courses should take about six months to complete, and will cost a fraction of a traditional college education.”

With tuition at $49 per month and most programs lasting six months, this educational program saves time, saves money, and promises to focus on jobs.

Not just jobs, but in-demand careers.

Moreover, prospective participants will not need to apply for FAFSA funds, state grants, scholarships, or student loans.

Let me repeat that, NO NEED FOR STUDENT LOANS!

Let’s do some more math:

Scenario 1: Student attends USC to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science. Completes the program in 5 years and has no guarantee for a job.

Cost for Student: $395,315 (*if tuition remains constant)

Earns: $0

Scenario 2: Student attends Google’s certification program — designed specifically for a position in Data Science. Completes program in 6 months and spends the remaining 4.5 years earning a modest $50,000 per year with 5% annual raises. Subsequently, 6% is matched in a 401K retirement plan.

Cost: $294

Earns: $244,447 + $14,667 (retirement)

Total Swing: Scenario 1 vs Scenario 2: $654,428

With such a dramatic swing between the scenarios, Universities should be taking notice of Google’s new program. This offering is a direct threat to their business model.

Suppose enough students opt out of the university system and opt-in for an alternative education like Google University — a historic fallout would succeed.

Sometimes a well-deserved and much-needed disruption is a good thing.

Self-Education University

Google’s certification program is ushering in a new era of education.

With a focus on affordability and practicality, Google leads the way to a sustainable future in learning.

  • Lower cost of education
  • More job-related courses
  • Shorter time spent in colleges
  • Fewer student loans
  • Less financial burden on every stakeholder — federal, state, and individual

If the trends towards alternative educational platforms accelerate, then UTOPIA can become a reality.

As for traditional universities — they have a choice to make: conform to their customer’s financial demands or be disrupted.

Disclaimer: This article is purely informational and not intended to give financial or educational advice. Please seek a financial advisor or academic expert before making any decisions.

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