Inspired by this article, here are three predictions for the future of higher education that could very well influence your decision-making process.
#1: Online Education Will Become Ever More Viable
This is one of the most noticeable trends in higher education right now, and it’s not going away. Anybody looking at colleges right now will be aware that there are plenty of online options. MOOCs and other forms of distance learning are providing students opportunities to pursue their educations in new ways that better cater to their lives and schedules. And the technology is only going to get better as time and practice hones it.
Does this mean the traditional university is likely to go away? Not at all. Traditional universities will continue to serve a purpose that online educational opportunities can’t quite match. But that most certainly doesn’t mean that either one is going to be better than the other. Online courses and learning tools will supplement existing, traditional, brick and mortar modes of higher education to ensure that students can nearly always find some form of study that fits their needs.
What does it mean for you right now: Even though there’s definitely still room for improvement across the board, start looking into online educational options now. You might find something that already fits your needs, or just looks interesting, and if nothing else, you’ll keep yourself abreast of important developments for the future. Down the line, you’ll be pretty happy when you find out that the degree you’re most interested in pursuing, or that you need to advance your degree, is available in a new, super functional format online.
#2: The Value of College Will Stabilize
At the moment, there’s a lot of tension between how much college costs, how much students can actually afford to pay for college, and how much it’s genuinely worth in the long run for students’ careers. Should you shell out all the cash that a lot of colleges are asking for? Is the price tag really all that high, or is it often presented as higher than it really is, not factoring in financial aid? Will getting a college degree boost your overall income enough to validate that price tag? Are there other benefits to getting a college degree that similarly make it worth getting, despite the price tag?
In the future, out of necessity more than anything else, we’re going to reach some kind of stability about the value of a college degree. Some theorize that the “higher education bubble will pop,” such as this rather incisive article. But regardless of what actually happens, the current mode of students incurring high debts to pursue their educations isn’t sustainable. Perhaps in the future college’s price tag will decline. Perhaps financial aid or government support will decrease the burden of pursuing a college education. Perhaps the prevalence of MOOCs will mean that education at the college level won’t cost nearly as much as actually obtaining a college degree, and the value of that degree might decline on the whole. But one way or another, we’re going to come to a better equilibrium on the value of college, simply due to necessity.
What does it mean for you right now: Until the value of college stabilizes, you need to take a close look at whether or not it’s the right decision for you, and how to make sure the value is what you need. Maybe that means pursuing scholarships. Maybe that means looking at schools with lower price tags, or looking at MOOCs. Maybe it means pursuing subjects that are more likely to pay off in the long run. No matter what, though, at the moment, you need to be deeply aware of the value of your education in your decision-making process.
#3: Personalized Education Will Take Precedence
The nature of higher education has been about taking specific courses, at appointed times, in a predetermined course of study, for a long, long time. There are many advantages to this approach, but times, they are a-changin’. Online courses are providing students with the ability to heavily tailor their own courses of study, and that trend is likely to pervade education in the future.
Imagine if you could use tools to study that directly measure your progress and alter themselves to suit your own particular needs. Imagine if you could supplement any of your education by tuning in to similar courses available across the Internet. Imagine if you could easily obtain access to the teachings of Ivy League professors, or if you could take specifically the courses on the subjects that you’re most interested in, at your own discretion. That’s what the future of higher education looks like.
There are still lots of issues, like accreditation and paying for such openness. But the future of education is much more likely to allow for individual customization.
What does it mean for you right now: Consider your own personal desires and goals for education at every step of the way. Even now, there are plenty of tools that allow you to personalize your education, and while you might not have as much versatility at your fingertips as you would in a few years, you can still adjust and modify your learning to the best possible benefit. Listen to courses on podcast. Contact people studying the same subjects through online forums. Make sure that whatever you’re doing for education is best suited to your own personal wants and needs.