Fascinating tweetstorm by Austen Allred about education, quoted in full below for readability/posterity:
This is a tweetstorm about things that have surprised me having started a school, coming from a non-educational background
- Students’ brains are broken by our existing system. We’ve been reworked purely for extrinsic reward and forgotten how to learn entirely. The most frequently asked questions we get are “is this required?” and “donwe get a certificate for this?” It’s sad Most universities, surprisingly, have no way to measure their effectiveness, and most don’t try. If you can’t measure effectiveness you can’t fail.
- Many academics believe you can’t learn online. Not that you can only learn a subset of things or that the learning is worse because it misses x y and z if not in person. They literally don’t believe it’s possible to have an effective online education.
- Apparently I can’t spell or number things correctly
- We accept students from all sorts of backgrounds, including socioeconomic, educational, etc. Our top performers? The poorest students with no college education. Hypothesis? They have no other options
- Everyone knows too many people attending universities don’t consider the financial burden, but NO ONE thinks about the time. Four years is a LONG time, but it doesn’t enter into peoples’ thinking generally when deciding if they should get a degree
- We had one student on the edge of homelessness, was $400 short on bills and almost had to quit because of that. I personally loaned him the money, and his income moved from $10/hr to $70k+/yr. It only took $400, but he didn’t have anywhere to get that from. Insane.
- Psychology matters much, much more than people think, and varies wildly based on socioeconomic background. People that don’t know many people that are middle class literally don’t understand what’s possible, and are unable to take the corresponding risks as a result of that.
- 99% of people, when left long blocks of time alone to work on something without anyone to be accountable to, will watch Netflix.
- Nearly everyone recognizes that MOOCs are by and large a failure with ~2% completion rates, but they make us feel good because now it’s the students’ fault not they’re not learning, not the school’s
- Tuition at any Ivy League school is pretty much a rounding error no one cares about. Endowments are all that matters.
- Think for profit universities are bad? They’re worse than you think. Almost no matter how little you think of them they manage to be worse than that
- There are dozens of careers that are a 100% employment guarantee. There are dozens of careers where <50% get jobs. Everyone knows what those are on a university faculty, but no one does anything about it because universities don’t see it as their role to get you a job
- Universities and colleges that achieve accreditation (the kind that matters) are incredibly locked in as to what they teach, how long they teach it, and what requirements are
- Code bootcamps know they don’t prepare programmers very well for the job market, but they can’t lengthen their programs because then they’d have to increase the prices they charge accordingly, and the market disappears at 2x bootcamp prices
- There are many, many code bootcamps with <25% hiring rate that do millions of dollars per year in revenue by promising jobs
- People rely mainly on their parents for advice on what to do about education, and that has to be among the worst places to go for educational advice
- Accreditation is a ticket for Title IV funding (grants, fed subsidized student loans), and because of that adds a $10m+ premium to any school that is for sale. There are companies that get and sell accreditation and that’s all they do
- Economically we vastly undervalue education. A $10k swing in income when you’re 20 yrs old is actually worth $400k+ over your lifetime, but we’re (rightfully) skeptical of the returns
- We really have no way to measure how much universities help because there’s so much selection bias involved. E.g. what if you took all the people that got accepted to Stanford or Harvard and had them all go to the same community college? Or different schools? We don’t know.
- People who have never made upper middle class jobs are unused to working for people that want them to succeed
- Lack of access to a computer almost kept some of our best students from being able to attend. Those aren’t expensive.
- Bank accounts are surprisingly hard to get if you don’t have much money
- One of the biggest limiting factor in many Americans getting an education is geography. They don’t live near a college/university and making that move would be tremendously expensive relative to their incomes
That’s all for now. Thanks for playing!