Below and linked is an article that gives you a sense of the trend away from valuing the "degree" in higher education, which is challenging colleges to rethink the reasons for their existence. I think these ideas are good to ponder and discuss as you think about college and career planning.
Badges Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas
The Chronicle of Higher Education January 8, 2012 by Jeffrey R. Young
The spread of a seemingly playful alternative to traditional diplomas, inspired by Boy Scout achievement patches and video-game power-ups, suggests that the standard certification system no longer works in today's fast-changing job market.
Educational upstarts across the Web are adopting systems of "badges" to certify skills and abilities. If scouting focuses on outdoorsy skills like tying knots, these badges denote areas employers might look for, like mentorship or digital video editing. Many of the new digital badges are easy to attain.intentionally so.to keep students motivated, while others signal mastery of fine-grained skills that are not formally recognized in a traditional classroom.
The rest of the article is worth reading here: