What is the value of a college degree when most of the coursework is completed outside of the classroom?
The Washington Posts reports that Walmart has partnered with American Public Univerisity to offer on-the-job credit. With this agreement, employees will receive up to 45% of required school credit to earn their bachelor and associate degrees. What types of tasks deserve such an award, and what are the ramifications of such a system?
The range of tasks which would count for such credit including “loading trucks and ringing up purchases”, which may seem to difficult to count as college-level course work. However, Walmart frames it in-line with students who earn internship credit–a valid position. Yet, students normally do not earn 45% of their credit from on-the- job training, so their position is complicated by this fact.
The ramifications of such an experiment speaks to the value of a college degree. As we’ve seen with the increasing costs of higher education and the increasing unemployment of said graduates, a degree seems to have become another prerequisite milestone in an employer’s checklist. In turn, the pressure to earn a college degree becomes less on learning and more to produce such a milestone by any means necessary. The criticism here, in the case of Walmart, is not that they shouldn’t help their employees to earn a college degree — but how will earning a degree in an environment where the tasks are no different from what their employees are accustomed to push the limits of their employees’ capabilities? Will that education help them grow themselves as much as their careers?