Let me begin by saying that I am not a disinterested bystander to this issue. My children are now in the 2nd and 4th grades, respectively, and I would love for college to irrelevant by 2020—if for no other reason than to save me a boatload of money.
I do not believe college will be completely irrelevant by 2020 for two reasons. First, I believe that college is still an important venue for learning. This learning, however, has little to do with the learning typically associated with the classroom and more to do with learning how to socialize with one’s peers in an environment outside of the home. Now, there is absolutely no reason why young people can’t—and won’t—learn many of these “life skills” elsewhere; I just think many will choose a college setting because it is safe and familiar.
The second reason college will still be relevant in 2020 is because parents, educators and community leaders simply can’t envision a different future. In short, it will take them a long time to unlearn their idea of college. As a result, the transition to college becoming “irrelevant” will occur over a longer timeframe than the article suggests if, for no other reason, than society is generally resistant to change.
Don’t misunderstand me, though. At some point college as we now know it will be irrelevant. (This date will likely occur in inverse proportion to the degree that colleges and universities continue to inflate tution).
Knowledge deserves to be free and it has, for all practical purposes, now reached this point. In the future, it won’t matter where you received your degree; what will matter is your ability to demonstrate knowledge.