‘Skill builder’ students are enrolling in college, but not for the degree

students-degrees-skillsKevin Floerke has been down this road before.

A student at Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California, Floerke, 26, already graduated in 2010 from UCLA, where he majored in archaeology.

This time, however, unlike many other people in his field, he’s not interested in getting yet another degree. He’s just trying to master a set of techniques and technologies that will help him verify the details he finds while doing fieldwork.

“I’m really there to learn the program itself and be able to use it in a professional setting,” he said.

Floerke, who leads tours for the National Geographic Society, is part of a group of students known as “skill builders,” who are using conventional colleges in an unconventional way: not to obtain degrees, but simply to learn specific kinds of expertise without spending time or money on courses they don’t think they need.

It’s a trend being driven by the rising price of higher education and a growing emphasis on paying for training in only the most marketable skills.

(Next page: How institutions are responding)


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