Unable to find enough paying students (or taxpayers), colleges will start to collapse, predicts Community College Dean. With them will go the expectation that a four-year degree is the default goal for all students.
1. Outside of California, the first major wave of collapses will occur among the small, undistinguished, tuition-driven privates. I can understand paying premium tuition for a premium degree, but $90,000 x 4 for a nothing-special degree? The only way they could survive is with “discount rate” levels that would imperil their survival. I just don’t see it.
2. In California, the publics will start dropping first, and probably very soon.
I agree completely with his first prediction. I don’t think California’s public universities or community colleges will close. I think they’ll rely much more heavily on online classes. And they may stop taking poorly prepared students.
The collapses will trigger “massive movement away from the four-year degree as the default model,” the dean predicts.
Instead of the “many paths to one place” model that American higher education offers now, we’ll have a “many paths to many places” model. That will mean certificates and certifications of various sorts, and possibly two-year degrees. Although that will mean wrenching transitions for many of the providers that are built entirely around the four-year degree, on balance, it may not be an entirely bad thing. At least it may help with the burgeoning “dropouts with debt” problem.
New providers will spring up to offer alternative credentials, he predicts. Employers may return to doing their own training, if they can ensure trainees won’t jump ship quickly.
“People at the elite outposts of higher ed will be the last to know,” the dean concludes.