I wrote recently about my thoughts on whether MOOCs have been a failure. Udacity is showing that they are not, and is an example of where the potential of technology to “disrupt” a market is finally entering the realm of education. And it has now put its “money where its mouth is”, by doing something no college (that I know of) has done: guarantee its graduates a job. But what is the catch (if there is one)?
Best for Autodidacts
The technology field has been and continues to be one where the self-starter who cares more about the learning than the “piece of paper” will be the one who is successful. This is why many of the successful entrepreneurs from Bill Gates, to Steve Jobs, to Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and why Peter Thiel has paid people to not go to college. Udacity makes this fairly clear when they say their program is not for someone to go from “Zero to Hero”. In other words, you need to learn the basics of programming on your own, and with so many people who drop out of introduction to computer programming classes, this means that the first step is not necessarily easy. But, if you are the type of person who saw my heading for this section and then looked up what “autodidact” meant, because you were curious; you might have the self-direction to succeed.
Will the Jobs be good Ones?
We will also have to see how good these guaranteed jobs are in the end, as I have heard of colleges who have had “job placement” end up placing someone in a low paying job they might have been able to get without the degree. But, reading the “fine print“, seems that it has reasonable clauses. But, the FAQ does have one part that is potentially troubling as them having an “out”, where it says: “Udacity will help you find a job (as defined in the program Terms and Conditions) at a partner company, land you a paying internship, or secure for you the opportunity to make money through Udacity’s global mentorship or freelancing programs.” That last bit that I put in italics, could mean that if you only get one part time freelancing gig, they might say “We’ve done our job”…
So, is it worth it?
Yet, the cost of Udacity is very reasonable to take this risk. Even at $299 per month, that is only about $10 per day (double the cost of buying Starbucks!). University of Phoenix and others costs thousands of dollars per month, and don’t have any such guarantees. So, for someone who is a self-starter who has a knack for technology, then this program is highly attractive.