University education has become a game of loans. Student debt has exploded and increasingly, in the last few years, some of the best and brightest students got accepted into elite schools, only to fail to arrive on orientation day, because they couldn’t afford the tuition. There were only so many scholarships after all.
Online courses are valuable, yes, but there’s something to be said for learning in classrooms directly and not having screen-mediated lessons. It’s no wonder that students started selling stakes in their future selves. At some American colleges, students have been able to study in exchange for an agreed share of their earnings, once they land a plum job. This ‘IPO’ model was attractive because the graduate only starts paying dividends when they find work, and the capital burden ends up being shared by the student and the investors alike.
The problem with this was that there’s really no accurate way of defining someone’s expected success based solely on their choice of major. A future J.K. Rowling might lose out on student funding because she wants to study English Literature, but in the same breath the investor might be losing out on a very high ROI.
A beta version of a personal student ‘stock exchange’ was unveiled in New York City earlier today. For an individual, attracting investment depends on a holistic set of factors, such as your IQ, EQ, measured creativity, learning (and unlearning) ability; and entrepreneurial aptitude. But the clincher is usually some sort of elevator pitch, just like Dragon’s Den.
Companies like Solve, John & Sons and Meta have all gone on record, saying that they’re only interested in funding applicants with an ROI of at least 18%. Like we needed another factor to increase income and societal inequality! Needless to say, asking for funding for a doctorate to conduct research on life-expectancy algorithms will be a better bet than a boring old MBA.
Before, it might have been a dog-eat-dog world in the corporate jungle, but now it’s full-on Hunger Games!