The End of Education

Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

My number one prediction for the 2020s is that education will end. Not education in general, of course, but certainly education as we know it.

In the education world, we see two key trends. The first trend is the consistent rising of tuition rates, followed by heavy issuance of both government and privately sponsored student loans. The second trend is the rise of edutech solutions; primarily internet based nonprofits, such as KhanAcademy and FreeCodeCamp.

You may already see where I’m going here, but I’ll continue to elaborate. As the free edutech solutions get wider in scope — better specialties, greater depth — they’ll begin to outclass secondary education. At some point, the only thing that will be an advantage of going to a traditional university are resources and prestige. And then, the crash happens.

Everyone who knows investing knows that you can’t issue debt forever. Eventually, a big portion of that debt is going to remain unpaid by those who default and go bankrupt. This means that anyone who issues debt — educational institutions, private investors, etc. — will eventually flee from the market. This leads to a lack of available financing for the students. Traditionally, this would lead to either lower tuition (causing universities to either bite the costs or go bankrupt) or to students seeking other means of financing. However, now we live in this world where you can learn all those things you would have learned for free; where prestige no longer matters, as the world moves closer and closer to remote work and personal branding. Where online schools give just as good of resources as the stationary institutions of old. And so, there is a full-on flight from traditional universities, and those universities go away.

Now, there’s still a couple of ties here that remain. For example, what happens to graduate work — primarily PhDs? Or specialty schools, like Medicine or Law? These, as far as we’re aware, require stationary institutions, as they focus very much in labs or clerk work. This conundrum I think is yet to be solved, but has a great chance of being solved in the 2020s. 

There is, of course, much time left until we figure out whether this is true at all. But I do have the firm believe that the tides of modern education are leading somewhere that will leave it changed forever.

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