In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.
And so begins this piece in The American Interest about the future of the college education system in the U.S., which is basically about how technology is paving the way to provide free access to online learning to anyone with an Internet connection (see this story about how Stanford is providing a bunch of courses online for free), while colleges are struggling to keep their costs in check. I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that half of the colleges in the U.S. won’t exist in 50 years, but, hey, a lot can happen in 50 years.