American Education (to 2020)

The "typical" American college student will be non-white, older than 18, and not seeking the traditional 4-years-on-campus experience. With for-profit universities revealing themselves to be flexible to student desires and needs, traditional schools will have to adapt to survive. It is expected that the most successful schools will be "brick and click" or have both a physical and online classroom componant.

American Education (to 2020) American Education (to 2020) American Education (to 2020) American Education (to 2020) American Education (to 2020)

New Trends

There is significant disagreement to what the next decade will hold for university education. Some analysts predict a decreasing emphasis on the attainment of a BA, with more significance placed on taking and passing certain classes. This idea is supported by the current federal push for all high school graduates to attend "some college;" however, the increasingly complex skill sets needed for advanced employment points actually points towards an increased significance placed on attaining a degree. Another trend that could go either way: in 2010, an increasing number of students need remediation when they enter college, but what this means for 2020 is unclear. Will most colleges offer one-year remedial programs to students who are not yet prepared for college work, or will high schools increase the rigor of their coursework and more closely align it to college?

Ending Trends

There are some trends that can be traced, with some certainty, to their likely conclusions in 2020. There is a good chance that the traditional full-time residential model will be too expensive for a growing percentage of American students. Students will look for ways to save time and money: three year programs, reduced-cost programs, online-only programs, programs with multiple entry points and excelerated timelines, are all expected to boom to fill this need. Students will increasingly strive to complete college on their own schedule, and are expected to seek classes at night or during the weekend, and move away from the traditional two-semester (or three-trimester) model. Schools are expected to move towards a "brick and click" model that offers both the convenience of online courses, and a physical space where students can interact with others.

Student of the Future

It is highly likely that, just after 2020, minority students will outnumber whites on college campuses for the first time. The "average" student will shift profoundly: she may be over-age, a person of color, and paying some or all of her own tuition by working half-time or more. This new-average student is already the norm at many community colleges and for-profit institutions, both of which are expected to be at the forefront of increasing enrollment trends. While the most elite colleges -- and many flagship state schools -- will always have students seeking a traditional college experience, the total group that attends those types of institutions makes up far less than half of college goers, and it is shrinking. It is expected that the best professors at the best schools will draw large classes, salaries, and clout, resulting in an increased stratification of the professorial corps.

College in the Future

On the whole, for colleges in 2020, flexibility will be the name of the game: this will not be the first time in history when colleges are asked to adapt or die. Some traditional universities (likely including less-selective private colleges with small endowments) will close, and an unsustainable number of non-traditional universities are expected to take hold.

Take Aways

  1. The traditional model of college is changing
  2. Students’ convenience is paramount
  3. Higher-paying, career-oriented jobs require a college degree