In the past few years, there have been repeated concerns in and around academia regarding two different problems: one is the bleak job outlook for newly minted PhD’s, and the other is skyrocketing tuition costs for students at universities.
One way that I think both problems can be tackled simultaneously is an apprenticeship/private tutor model. Here’s how it could work. People who want to “go to college” would be able to choose between the traditional university route with enrollment, tuition, regular classes, and an apprenticeship or tutor route. They would be able to “hire” out-of-work PhD’s in applicable fields of study, paying the instructor directly, and the instructor would then teach the applicable material, skills, etc. When the pupil achieved certain milestones as judged by the instructor, the instructor could recommend recognition of credits or degrees. E.g. a student who would like to obtain a bachelor’s degree but needs English Literature credits could hire someone with a PhD in English and study independently with that person. The PhD, when convinced of the student’s mastery, could present a portfolio of the student’s work to a local university and recommend the issuance of 6 credits of English, possibly contingent on the student also passing standardized exams. If the instructor consistently recommends good candidates, eventually the panel would no longer need to scrutinize portfolios and could start rubber-stamping the instructor’s pupils (e.g. the instructor has become “fully accredited” to issue college credits in English). There is already an analogous process in place in many areas of the US for home-schooled children who would like a high school diploma or equivalency. E.g. this organization appears to be authorized by the State of Pennsylvania to monitor the curricula of homeschooling parents and decide when and if the student has been educated enough to qualify for a high school diploma or equivalency. You could even have assistantships, where students assist the tutor in the tutor’s own research in lieu of some or all of the student’s tuition. E.g. maybe I could sign on with someone with a PhD in Psychology and help them do real psychological research, learning along the way, and become a co-author on five papers that get published in academic journals. Eventually I get good enough and do my own paper (i.e. a thesis), and the PhD pats me on the back and recommends me for immediate master’s degree recognition. The difference between this and existing grad assistantships is that there is no “grad school” to apply to or attend - I’m just working with a PhD I found on www.phdandnojob.co m.
In other words, this is the one-on-one pupilship “Mr. Miyagi’s dojo” model versus the “Cobra Kai dojo” with its highly structured classes, ranks, and competitions.
Workable idea? Good idea? If it’s a bad idea, why? Would it be too hard to administer on a practical basis? Would it necessarily represent a drop in educational standards?