6/6/14

My outrageous idea is for students to organize their own college.



How much should college cost?
There are many college majors that need only textbooks, and teachers in a classroom, and now-a-days, laptop computers. Such subjects include English, History, Psychology, Math, Languages, Political Sci, Computer Science, and so on.  

How much should a college degree in these subjects cost?  Let's do an analysis.

The professors should be paid by tuitions, I believe,  but tuitions should not pay for anything else but professor's salaries. Tuitions should not pay for buildings, libraries, or research.  Especially, undergrad tuitions should not pay for research.  

How much should college cost?  
Making the math simple here: let's say one professor teaches five courses, each course has 20 students.  Each student takes five courses per semester.
Each student pays 1/20 of the professor. If the prof makes 80K/yr then tuition should be $2000 per semester. Or $16K for a four year degree. 

Professor teaches 20 students per class, times five classes per semester, times two semesters per year; equals 200 student-courses.  Professor makes $80,000 per year, divided by 200 student-courses, equals $400 per student-course. Student takes five courses per semester or ten courses per year, that equals $2000 per semester or $4000 per year or $16,000 per four-year degree.  

I understand this would be only for subjects where it is all classroom, such as Math, History, Literature, and the all important Liberal Arts.  

I also understand that this does not include "overhead" such as classrooms, library, dorms, cafeteria, etc.  I believe that donation should pay for buildings, not the students.  And doing the math for classrooms and such, it comes to a relatively small amount, like $200/semester.  

Technical subject like the Sciences would cost more, due to lab costs. 

Athletics pays for itself, through ticket sales. 

Library should be paid for through donations from alumni.  

That is how much college should cost.  But even in-state tuitions are triple this.  Go figure. 

So, with this in mind, what can a High School graduate do?  A four-year college degree tuition would cost a minimum of $48,000 at a state college, to $200,000 or more at an elite Ivy League school.  Granted, a person with a college degree earns more, even double over a lifetime, than a High School grad.  So it is desirable to obtain that college sheepskin, even at those rates.

Are there options?  One option is to take college courses on-line from the many online colleges,  schools like Phoenix and Strayer.  But the cost is still very high for these schools too.  It is just perhaps more convenient, but still costly.   

Here is an outrageous idea. 

First let's review the college business model.  Colleges are all businesses, some are not-for-profit, and many are for-profit.  The business model is simple; colleges provide services (classes) and receive payment for the services.  Unlike most businesses, colleges generally select their customers, instead of the usual practice of customers selecting the business that they want to use.  

A Co-op business, however, has a slightly business model.  In a co-op business, the customers provide the services to themselves.  For instance, in a buying co-op, the business model is for the customers themselves to purchase items at wholesale prices, and then distribute the items at the wholesale price.

My outrageous idea is for students to organize their own college.  In this business model the students would hire the teachers (hopefully qualified teachers), and rent classroom space.  The teachers and professors would teach the students the classes and subjects that the students would need to complete a course of study that would be equivalent to the same four-year degree at an established college.  

For example, a four-year course in computer science would contain classes in programming, data structures, algorithms, compilers, data mining, computer security, machine learning, math courses, and so on.  See the syllabus below.  A student-led college would offer all the same courses or similar courses given by qualified professors.  A student that completes the courses would be fully qualified for a career in computers.  

Issues would remain.  The biggest issue is how would prospective employers accept these students who take such un-accredited courses?  And how would an accredited college accept these students who took such un-accredited courses?

One possible solution would be for the professors who give the courses to give the courses in association with one of many accredited institutions, so the students' course work would be accredited.

Also, the courses could be offered in conjunction with companies that need graduates.  For example, my company has many opening for people trained in computers.  One opening received dozens of applicants.  But unfortunately, none were "qualified".  Students who take courses with intention for certain companies and openings would be more likely to step into good jobs from the start.  

Has there ever been a college that has been student led and run as a co-op business?  




SAMPLE COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE SYLLABUS
(credits)

Year 1 Semester Fall
MATH 104 (3 credits) Statistics
MATH 140 (4) Calculus I
CMSC 131 (4) Object-Oriented Programming I  
Engl 101 (3) Writing
PhyE 101 (1) exercise

Year 1 Semester Spring
MATH 141 (4) Calculus II
CMSC 132 (4) Object-Oriented Programming II  
CMSC 216 (4) Introduction to Computer Systems
Engl 102 (3) English Literature

Year 2 Semester Fall
CMSC 250 (3) Discrete Structures
CMSC 330 (3) Organization of Programming Languages
Hist 101 (3) American History
CHEM 101 (3) Chemistry and Biology

Year 2 Semester Spring
CMSC 351 (3) Algorithms
CMSC 420 (3) Data Structures
CMSC 406 (3) Systems Analysis
Hist 102 (3) World History and Government

Year 3 Semester Fall
CMSC 412 (3) Operating Systems
CMSC 404 (3) Computer Architecture
CMSC 405 (3) Assembler language
PSYC 101 (3) Psychology 
LANG 101 (3) Foreign Language TBD

Year 3 Semester Spring
CMSC 417 (3) Computer Networks
CMSC 424 (3) Database Design
SOCH 101 (3) Sociology and Social Science
ARTS 101 (3) Painting, Sculpture, Music, Dance
LANG 102 (3) Foreign Language TBD

Year 4 Semester Fall
CMSC 435 (3) Software Engineering
CMSC 436 (3) Hand Held Programming Devices
CMSC 505 (3) Software Capability Maturity Model
PHYS 101 (3) Physics Mechanics
LANG 103 (3) Foreign Language TBD

Year 4 Semester Spring
CMSC 452 (3) Theory of Computation
CMSC 466 (3) Numerical Analysis
CMSC 506 (3) Software Project Management
PHYS 102 (3) Heat, Sound, Electronics
LANG 104 (3) Foreign Language TBD



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