5 Reasons Why Your Kid Won't Go to College

March 03 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Social Issues   Year: 2020   Rating: 19

As accelerating change transforms the way we learn, innovate and network, traditional social institutions will be forced to adjust. Some will successfully make the transition, most won’t.

Universities, in particular, will need to completely re-think their models as youth are lured away by new income and actualization opportunities.

While it’s possible that some schools will be able to change with the times, here are 5 compelling reasons why your kid (born in 2002) probably won’t be going away to college in 2020:

1. Prevalence of Teenage Millionaires: With more and more people making money online, an explosion of user-generated content platforms like Second Life and Spore and the ongoing rise in value of human capital, a boom in teenage millionaires will be old news by 2020. Pressured by their peers to roll the dice and strike it rich, kids will opt out of college and probably even high school. Parents will be loving it.

2. Distributed Distance Learning: People are already taking classes via virtual worlds. By 2020 there will be millions of rich, interactive courses offered online. This will allow kids to learn from anyone anywhere and will moot campus-based learning.

3. Pervasive Education: The advent of the semantic web, Artificial Intelligence and new learning software will mean that kids are effectively attending college at every moment of their lives.

4. Corporate Poachers: Google is already tapping into the middle school market via contests. 2020 will see companies more aggressively recruiting kids straight out of high school and paying them to learn while on the job.

5. Enhanced Info Input: Brain implants, new attention mastery techniques, powerful learning software and better understanding of brain development will conspire to let kids learn much more in a shorter span. To the average future kid, the current notion of college will feel like swimming through a pool of molasses.

While this doesn’t mean you should hop on a plane and go blow your kid’s college fund in Vegas, it does suggest that at some point you may want to consider allocating some of it to alternative learning programs and new technologies. As our environment undergoes changes, so too must the methods and structure we employ to teach our youth to navigate it.

Will most children born in 2002 attend college as we currently know it?

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Comment Thread (8 Responses)

  1. This is a great list/piece. I’ve been advancing this position for some time now to great resistance. I think it’s one of the forecasts that can really bring home the concept of the social impact of accelerating change to the masses. The notion that something may effect their children’s future is a great dissonance reducer.

    Posted by: Jeff   March 03, 2008
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  2. @Jeff – You were the inspiration for the article/list. :)

    Not being a parent myself, I can nevertheless imagine that when it comes to raising children folks are willing to take far less risks than in other life situations. The stakes and emotional investment is so high. Hence resistance to speculation, though it may be rooted in a reasonable belief in accelerating change, that comes across as too risky. I mean, what if all of a sudden the accelerating change levels out into a smoother s-curve…

    Likewise, going to college is a powerful meme that has netted people good results for a long time. Anyone thinking in terms of linear tech and info development is of course going to argue against crazy disruption.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   March 04, 2008
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  3. Excellent article. I would add that college education - as it is currently structured - is not prepared to adequately address the accelerating pace of new knowledge. Advances in biology, physics, chemistry, nanotechnology, the computational sciences, etc. are doubling every 7 years.

    Posted by: juldrich   March 04, 2008
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  4. I’m finishing up the book The Next Fifty Years which has an excellent article on this same idea by Roger Schank entitled “Are We Getting Smarter?”

    Schank basically predicts a shift from an answer-based to society to a question-based one. With the ability to access information ever increasing, answers will become devalued and knowing how to ask the right questions will become more important.

    Because of this, how we define intelligence will change – instead of emphasizing and praising accumulated information we will begin to focus on experiences. And he of course sees technology such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence playing a huge role. He predicts that thanks to all this, school as we know it will have simply atrophied from lack of interest within the next fifty years.

    One cool quote I like is, “Knowing offhand what Freud has to say about the superego won’t mean much when you can turn to the nearest appliance and ask what Freud had to say and hear Freud (or someone who looks and sounds a lot like him) saying it and finding five opposing through leaders from throughout time ready to propose alternative ideas if you want to hear them and discuss them together.” I’m looking forward to this…

    Posted by: Austra Zubkovs   March 04, 2008
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  5. Ulrich, I just caught your sweet The Future of College article at your home-site. I totally agree that the ” quality of free college-level courses will soar” and with your conclusion that as they do “the economics underlying today’s existing colleges and universities could come crashing down.” From that perspective, it’s nteresting to consider how hugely MIT could scale. As human capital rises in value, their counter-intuitive business model will absolutely kill the neo-college market. I’ll bet that we’ll soon witness a swoosh of mimicry from other institutions as they come around to the idea that this is a huge stealth-threat and also as a result of connectivity increases in places like Africa, China and the Middle East that would open up additional massive brain markets.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   March 04, 2008
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  6. pardon, i meant to write Uldrich, with a dee :)

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   March 04, 2008
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  7. @ Austra – Fascinating. That’d make a great quick post and you’ve already pretty much written it. :)

    I’m working on a piece about Exponenetial Intelligence and the Flynn effect and must agree that our contemporary view of intelligence is far less than perfect. I’ll be interested to see how this resonates with what you’ve read by Schank.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   March 04, 2008
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  8. I agree with the ideas that the educational element of collages and Universities will be supplanted by technology by 2020. However, I think that a small number of elite schools will persist or grow in impact as structures of social differentiation and privilege.

    In terms of knowledge transfer hundreds of universities around the US are equal or nearly equal, however the value of a Harvard, Yale or Stanford (and others )education remains a differentiator many years past the graduates first job while the impact of other universities on the success of graduates is reduced to having or not having a collage degree.

    Universities will persist as ways to delay the responsibilities of adulthood and as ways to further cement cross generational traditions within families.

    As the dominant universities come to grips with the conclusion that democratized inexpensive information technologies are far better at knowledge transfer their focus will morph towards a non-quantifiable arts based education and an emphasis on social networking. The competition for entry into these select institutions will grow even more fierce than it presently is.

    Posted by: Kevin317   March 07, 2008
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