It’s 2020. Harvard and Yale announce their merger. Ha-Ya’s new president, “tiger daughter” Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, pledges to slash tuition to attract students. Shanghai University is buying Princeton. Stanford is shedding its undergraduate division to focus on law, medicine and business schools.
Instead of attending a high-cost bricks-and-mortar college, debt-averse students are taking online courses, studying with freelance professors and using a portfolio of test results, essays and reports on activities to qualify for jobs without a college degree. It’s Jane Shaw‘s fantasy of the future of higher education.
It all started, Shaw writes, on May 28, 2010, when “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber wrote about Cortney Munna, a graduate of New York University who owed $97,000 in student loans and works for a photographer earning $22 an hour.
All it requires to become reality is an accepted way for people to certify what they’ve learned.