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Coursera courses as an alternative to expensive education system

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Coursera Courses, Why? Because formal education is mostly signalling, and a few practical skills. Coursera can bring you both – skills and signalling.

But, let’s get to it all in the background of this marvelous book.

Oh, and the little note…

We are going to promote Coursera courses here, just because we have good experience with them. You can also go with EdX, Udacity, even Udemy even, although that’s a bit different.

The point of this article is a bit different though.

We’ve just accomplished reading Caplan’s: The case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.

It’s a great book. Very meticulously written backed with diligent resourcing under veil of scientific method. Good work as it is supposed to be.

It makes the case against education bias – and that’s the Professor who says it. It’s the story of – get a college degree, get a job, mortgage, buy a house, car…

And thinking differently.

By the way, if you know and trust Coursera already, get on board already

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What lies inside of education system

If there was a Martian looking on education system he’d have thought that we go to schools to acquire skills that get us paid on the market.

This is just partially true because schools are just part of the system we call states.

There’s the theory in Economics called Signalling. And in Caplan’s book this is a very valid theory.

Signalling said briefly is this – so called sheepskin effect. Imagine two students. There are let’s say 20 credits necessary for a college diploma.

One gets 19 credits and the last credit is going to a roadtrip to Eryndale or something. Yet, he does not go, because his dog has died and he’s touched by that deeply and he decides to dropout.

The other guy gets 19 credits and goes to the road trip and he gets a college diploma.

Both students are equally educated, well one has a road trip on top.

Yet, who will be rewarded better on the market?

You’re right the road trip guy with a diploma.

Paper gets premium baby – that’s how it is.

Education system = Skills + useless skills + signalling

The Real Rewards of Education

Education still pays. Degrees are not born the same. It’s You have to make a difference between a degree from electrical engineering and fine arts, but go figure.

Caplan concludes – The link between practical skill and worldly success is subtler than either mainstream defenders or contrarian detractors of modern education imagine.

The skilful do a good job. The successful have a good job.

You don’t learn lot of great skills at school – educational institutions. It’s not like you link to say coursera courses and learn a way that you actually need for work. You boss tells you to summarize customer’s data from previous year and present it in visualized manner.

If this is a task you can’t avoid you will link to coursera courses and find your way how learn specific knowledge that you need in order to deliver the job.

On the other hand schools – high schools, colleges, universities – they are mostly about the paper. In most of the western societies, graduation is a sacred milestone.

You will get a paper premium just to become a member of that league.


Because of social norms. The certification paper does tell employeers more than you have employable skills that you can use at work (you really can’t).

Graduation tells employers: I take social norms seriously and have the brains and work ethic to comply.

In the world of conformists the education signals intelligence, conscientiousness and conformity.

On the job market, it’s always a competitive game. You hire from multiple candidates and usually, you can pick just one for the specific job.

Years of education bring extra reward to the market. Diplomas make this premium even higher.

Is the investment in formal education really that worth it?

What Caplan did differently or shall we say more precisely was that he looked at all kinds of specific situations a life can trigger when it comes to the question:

To pursue or not higher degree diploma.

After all the tuition at the top college costs lump sum of money – Harvard $45,000.

Probably you’ve seen charts like this.

Ep Chart 001 1024x641, Inex Life

They give you the overall feeling that education pays. More years, more grind , then more you get paid. And there’s some truth about this – not to complain.

But Caplan’s Case against Education looks at all kinds of specific scenarios what is the return for higher degrees for in case of an excellent, good, far, poor student.

It’s the difference between students you are enthusiastic about their subject of study, and who are really into something else, but they study that, because, well somehow they do – parents, nothing better planned and etc.

Returns are not alike for every students

The good Student fits the profile of a typical B.A. who did not continue on to graduate or professional school.

Excellent Student is a master’s degree guy.

The Fair Student is a high school graduate who does not try college.

The Poor Student fits the profile of the typical high school dropout.

Here the charts look much different at the level of compensation.

coursera courses

Some good conclusions from Caplan’s book

High school is lucrative for everybody.

College is solid deal for Excellent and Good Students.

Fair Students because they fail should foresee just return of their education investment at 2.3%

For Poor Student it’s only 1%.

The payoff hinges on what you study.

In general, Caplan could say more about the distributional impact of reducing education. His view is that the poor lose most from signalling, and he anticipates a return to a world where a costly education is no longer a prerequisite for professional success.

And this is where coursera courses come to play

Coursera courses as an alternative to expensive education system

Education is transforming, that’s a guarantee.

The degrees and the signalling within them is going to last for one simple heuristics , one reason – people are paper – centric.

They need statutes, certificates and honors for the large part.

In most cases, you need just a person to get the job done – with required skills, but the deal is that we live in an inefficient world, that’s what it is.

Today’s education is shifting towards superlearners.

The ability to be modern polyglots. Entrepreneurial spirits are followed more than regular corporate careers and such.

It’s all shifting.

Therefore you need to acquire the education that is 100% applicable to your visions, actions and deeds. Just like we mentioned somewhere above – if the job wants it, you go and learn the skill.

Lifelong learning is the new brainfood of 21st century, it’s digitized era.

Coursera courses provide you just that. Accessible skillset and it’s useful because it’s picked by you. And guess what? It’s directly from universities.

But, what about signalling?

You guessed right! They offer papers as well!

Of course it’s not a paper that has the same weight as Harvard B.A. with sum of tuition of $125, 000.

But, trust us, these online papers will soon be accepted like no other. They will be sufficient for the job markets. Online degrees will be accepted and liked from employers, especially from reputable sources like coursera.

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