There are some pretty interesting alternative degree programs, for example, College for America, which is a "competency-based" program that offers a Bachelor's degree for $10,000, a price point for higher education that few institutions have been able to reach. That's awesome, and I agree that college should be cheaper, as well as with the fact that the current academic model is not adequately preparing students for the workforce. This program does a good job of solving these problems. However, I cannot help but continue to critique the perceived reliance that organizations seem to have on using a college degree as a metric for hiring. If companies are so quick to endorse programs like the one mentioned, does this not show in some capacity that companies in the United States have very little faith in the traditional 4-year university education? As they should!
I also have to ask the question: how many of the people that enroll in these alternative institutions are more mentally blocked by the fact that they had no college education rather than truly blocked from pursuing the path that they wanted to pursue? Essentially, I would posit that they think that they need a college degree to progress in their careers, so they go and get one, and then since they have one they are mentally able to progress in their careers despite the fact that previously there was little impediment to doing so in the first place.
That's not always true, of course, but I hear way too many young men and women in my school that are 16, 17, and 18 years old who seriously correlate being college educated to being a capable human being. The misconception is that somehow, some way, someone with a college degree cannot be less qualified for a given position than a person without one. Keyword: misconception.
I love these alternative models, but my bold prediction and desire is that they are only a transitory invention to facilitate the removal entirely of college as a way to validate the incoming workforce. I think that the end goal is not to make the same subpar college education (of course, this varies heavily from school to school and field to field) more affordable and accessible, it's to completely change the way that we get young people into their first jobs and build careers from there.
In reality, most utilize college (all 4 years of it) so that they have some sort of credibility to go and get their first job. After the first job, the rest of their careers they are judged by their work and not their education. Why wouldn't we find ways to skip the 4 years entirely and get people into their first job?