Will Four Years Away At College Become Obsolete? “The College of 2020: Students”

Posted on June 6, 2009. Filed under: admissions advice, college admissions, college choice, college cost, college counseling, college news, college search |

No doubt for many of us, the way we work has changed. The multi-tasking, work anywhere, anytime mentality is unquestionably in full swing.

The world of higher education in 2020 will be shaped largely by convenience and economics, according to a new report from the research arm of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The report, titled “The College of 2020: Students” and released by the publication’s Chronicle Research Services, notes that the rise of for-profit colleges and popularity of community colleges “presages a time when colleges will be marketing themselves more like retailers.” So, will convenience and price drive college choice for the future?

According to a press release from the organization, the trends spell trouble for traditional higher ed.

The traditional model of college — four years away from home learning and growing into adulthood — will continue to wane. It will still have a place in higher education, but it will be a smaller piece of the overall picture.

Students’ convenience is the future, says the report. … More students will attend classes online, study part time, take courses from multiple universities, and jump in and out of colleges. The average student will be older, and will demand more options for taking courses to make it easier for them to do what they want when they want to do it. And they will make those demands for economic reasons, too. The full-time residential model of higher education is getting too expensive for a larger share of the American population. More and more students are looking for lower-cost alternatives to attending college. That trend will assuredly open doors for more inexpensive online options.

Colleges and universities will need to change accordingly.

“The challenge,” the executive summary notes, “will be to provide all those different learning methods simultaneously and be flexible enough to change the methods as the market changes.”


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