Is this the future of college: Online classes, but no degree

FILE - In this June 18, 2014 file photo, High School graduates stand and sing during graduation ceremonies in Santa Ana Bowl. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Mark Felix, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – College costs are rising steadily – and more are becoming available online for free.

So some observers are beginning to question the need for a traditional university education. They say it leads to massive student debt and often gives students highly theoretical knowledge.

Now there are alternatives from a series of startups. Choices include boot camps, one- or two-year tracks, and accredited degree programs. Founders say these options will give students a more relevant education in today’s job market – and at a lower cost.

But some experts say betting on a narrow, practical education that’s in demand today may leave students unprepared for the jobs of tomorrow. They also say most applicants still need a university degree from an established institution to get a good job.

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