The Future of Higher Education according to Sal Khan

ADAM SHAPIRO: What is the future of higher education, do you think, going to look like relatively soon, because we’re almost out of the pandemic? But when you talk about two years of community college for free, I mean, I’m still trying to grapple with why some people are paying $50,000-plus a year to get a degree. I mean, the return on investment just isn’t there anymore, or is it?

SAL KHAN: Yeah, I think people are finally asking the right questions here. I mean, there’s a lot that we have to look at from a first principals point of view. You know, this four-year experience, why is it always four years? Whether you want to become an engineer, whether you want to become an art historian, it’s four years.

And also, a lot of the skills that make you employable, if you really learn well in high school, you are very employable. If you know your critical reasoning and your math well, if you know — if you can write quite well, if you can communicate quite well, even graduating from high school, you’re, in some ways, more employable, more empowered than someone who could have a college degree or even a more advanced degree. So it’s a great step that community college could be free.

I think it’s also interesting to blur the lines between K through 12 and college and community college. Why can’t we get some of those skills earlier on in people’s progression so that we can save them time, and money, and opportunity cost and save the system time, money, and opportunity cost? Because there’s no reason that even in the two-year time frame that you can’t get all the skills you need.

And some of what’s going to be interesting is competency-based models. And we’re already seeing a lot of tech companies, Google with their certification program, Amazon with some of the things they’re doing to vet developers, creating new pathways that whether or not you went to college or even graduated from high school, if you can show that you have certain skills, you can get a better job than people who went to graduate school. And so I think there’s going to be a breaking up and a first principals thinking about what really makes sense.

Khan Academy’s Sal Khan on the future of higher education and why it might include non-traditional methods

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