COMMENTARY | According to US News and World Report, billionaire Mark Cuban has predicted an upcoming "destabilization" of the nation's college education system in his blog. For those considering college nonetheless, the outspoken entrepreneur, best known for his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, provided advice on how to pick the best college deal. Cuban is critical of the high tuition rates of colleges and universities and predicts they will not change until students stop taking such loans, thereby forcing schools to make changes.
Cuban predicts a new era of fast-paced, efficient, nontraditional colleges that train workers for the modern economy. As a tech leader, he asserts he doesn't care where new employees get their smarts and education as long as they are sound. You know what? I think he's right.
While I don't see college education becoming the wild west after the tuition pyramid collapse, I do see the rise of faster-paced colleges and universities proliferating the nation, based heavily on existing community college systems. Megasized state universities will impossible to maintain under our current tuition system that is creating stress fractures in the American economy. Multimillion dollar libraries, stadiums, luxury dorms and faculty office complexes are forcing current and future generations of college students into heavy debt. Cuban discusses expensive construction costs, tenured professor salaries, and extensive legacy costs as the forces ruining the economic efficiency of higher education.
Cuban likens traditional colleges to newspapers, which took a tremendous blow as a result of free Internet news and were unable to adapt successfully. One possible evolution of colleges and universities will be to go local, adopting traditional community college tactics, and tailor education needs to specific locations and industries. Many community colleges successfully avoid overgrowth and stagnation because they avoid frills and focus on local funding, which they can better predict, rather than attempt big-picture projects and state funding. Future state and federal funding for higher education should focus on disseminating money on a more localized scale to a new brand of smaller, more focused, more efficient state colleges.
These new, smaller colleges would encourage students to live at home, focus on utilizing community activities and services rather than demanding campus-based services and programs, and could create partnerships with local businesses to more efficiently inject federal and state education dollars into the economy.