Quora: How Will Education Change In 25 Years?

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Answer from Travis Tallent, B.A. Economics & Political Science:

I would like to set the stage for what the US will likely look like in 25 years.

Welcome to year 2042. You walk off a plane from Europe—thanks to cheap airfare—and hail a self-driving vehicle to take you to campus. There is little to no traffic because self-driving cars are able to perfectly anticipate traffic patterns, avoid collisions, and have supreme GPS systems. You walk onto campus and enter into a store with no cashier. Instead, you scan your phone and grab whatever you want off the shelf and it auto charges your card. You walk to class as the glasses/lenses you wear are showing the messages/videos/pictures that are coming through. Communication is easier than ever before. Voice chat is perfected and you’re able to respond simple responses (e.g., yes, no, maybe) through eye movement. The launch of thought text is right around the corner.

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Economically, universities teach classes faster than ever before (think two year programs instead of four, and concurrent degree programs galore). We’ll see a shift toward liberal arts degrees, as basic STEM and business largely becomes automated. Advanced STEM will still be admired and studied more competitively than ever before. Universities become more branded as the brains behind products and ideas (similar to how MIT positions itself now) and begin profiting from products produced, as companies like Google and Amazon do now.

Politically, the US resembles more of a Europe fashion with a more advanced social infrastructure, and one meant to support a fully-developed nation. This means higher education is heavily subsidized, if not free (even if it is just community/public colleges).

With education being free, you might think that more students will attend universities; however, as was the case when Australia made their college free, there was little increase. This is largely due to the innate fact that early education and nurturing largely influence attraction toward college later on. Just because those with lower income can now afford school doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll attend. Nevertheless, there will likely be a shift that a Bachelor’s is the “new high school diploma,” and both will be easily attainable in the same amount of time as a high school diploma currently (13 years).

Seems crazy? Not really. We’re dramatically increasing our productivity everyday (remember: 10 years ago, the first iPhone came out). With a large spike in subscription services, online shopping, self-driving cars, easier ways to communicate, etc., our productivity will spike, and students will be able to learn faster than ever before. Think the classrooms will be taught by teachers/professors? Likely not. Especially at lower levels of education, robots will be supreme and will be able to perfect learning. Robots will be able to study and perfectly track progress for every student, and deliver perfect, personalized syllabi and teaching materials to the students. This will truly ensure no student is left behind. Currently, just above 30% of the US population (25 and over) has a college degree, and just above 88% has a high school diploma. This increase in productivity, matched with the accessibility of resources for schooling may yield varying results from Australia’s example and dramatically increase the percentage of the population that has a college education.

All in all, we’re in for a wild ride. Prepare to learn faster than ever before.

What will formal higher education in the US look like in 25 years? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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