There were a few posts earlier in the week on graduate school, started by Jason Sorens sage advice. I continued the conversation by noting the challenge posed by free online courses.The new issue of The American Interest includes a fascinating piece by Nathan Harden entitled “The End of the University as We Know It.” Harden begins with a fine paragraph that should be enough to draw your attention: (if you find it gated, you might try the link off of NR).
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.
I agree with most of what Harden has to say, although I think he may be wrong in the timeline. I believe we are looking at changes of this magnitude in twenty to twenty-five years, so buckle up.
For other takes on the article, go to Ricochet.
Overall, the news is good for society. It is quite bad for anyone who would like a life comparable to that enjoyed by tenured academics today. This week, I spent 5 hours and 20 minutes teaching, 2 hours in meetings, and the remainder of the time reading and writing about things I find intrinsically fascinating. Great work if you can get it. Unfortunately for those who dream of a job in the academy, fewer and fewer may be able to get it.
Bottom Line: Listen to Jason Sorens.