As one who spends time traveling interstate highways, I’ve noticed a growing marketing trend by colleges and universities. Billboard after billboard promotes educational offerings — especially online and extension classes.

One reads: “Get a tassel with less hassle.” With miles to go, I contemplated that idea for awhile.

If “less hassle” means a convenient location or schedule that suits busy professionals in need of further education, that sounds good. But one has to wonder if the drive to increase enrollment (due to the high cost of operating schools) in a highly competitive market comes at a price.

It is unreasonable to think that everyone in pursuit of a diploma packs her or his bags and heads off for a full campus experience that so many of us enjoyed. But it does seem fair to ask if alternative educational experiences — that require less delayed gratification before graduation — offer as much.

Like most everything else, including traditional on-campus education, these programs surely vary in quality. But the offer of getting a tassel with less hassle hit me wrong.

So if by “less hassle” school officials mean offering greater accessibility to educational opportunities, then that is good. But if the result is an easier education, then I’d hold to the idea that tassels should follow a pretty good dose of hassles.

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