March 5, 2014


This may seem like a fringe proposal, but we see several advantages: for starters, more one-on-one access to professors and tailor-made lesson plans. Depending on the specific arrangements between teachers and students, there could be major cost savings as well. If the student lives at home, he wouldn’t need to pay for room, board, facilities, administrators, or whole academic departments whose halls he would never darken over four years in a traditional college. Students could boost their savings, at a relatively small cost in one-on-one time, by grouping together to hire teachers.

This approach may not be for everyone, but for many it would be a smart twist on the standard college model. To us, it sounds like an interesting way of addressing a reform goal we’ve talked about frequently: the need for colleges to move away from a system that rewards students based on the number of credit hours they rack up (the time-served model), and to move toward a system that rewards them for what they know (a stuff-learned model).

We would love to see some enterprising students or academics take a chance on this idea, or something like it. One of the keys to making it work is a standardized, college-level assessment that would make it easy to measure the performance of home-tutored college students against that of their traditional college peers.

Well, there’s the Collegiate Learning Assessment.