This is what’s next.

Seven predictions for the future of higher education

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Inspired by the generation of students who will be entering college ten years from now, we’ve identified seven future states that will define tomorrow’s higher education.

Future State One

Institutions will scale the cost of tuition to the demand for the degree.

Pay what it’s worth.

Controlling tuition for higher-demand, lower-paying degrees will be the norm, along with raising it for popular fields with generous paychecks. The benefits will be plentiful: Students will graduate with lower debt, a wider field of options, and more amenable pool of potential employers. And they’ll spur the economy, with qualified individuals doing the jobs that need to be done.

Future State Two

Instead of study abroad, institutions will offer richer domestic experiences.

Welcome to Study Across.

With fewer international students coming to U.S. schools, and more Americans nervous about international travel, overseas educational experiences will dwindle. Tomorrow’s students will spend a semester or more in other parts of the country, deeply immersed in communities that are many miles outside their comfort zones.

Future State Three

Rather than waiting for universities to produce the workforce they need, companies will create their own universities.

University, Inc.

Companies are spending loads of money and time finding qualified candidates. With the average cost per hire now above $4,000 and the average time from job posting to interview at 40 days, companies have a higher stake than ever in the future of higher education. And even at this deep level of investment, companies often still struggle to find graduates with the skill set and experience they’re looking for.

Future State Four

Institutions will look to students as key decision-makers.

At large and in charge.

Students have been standing up and speaking out for generations. Today, they have more ways than ever to be heard, and they expect people to listen. Tomorrow, they will command the podium and guide leadership boards, acting on their desire to run things better, and being held accountable for doing so. Top-down governance is on the way out. The future will be student centered and student led.

Future State Five

Institutions will cater to extreme customization.

Choose your own adventure.

Today, people are customizing everything: lunch orders, outfits created on a 3-D printer, and vacations with five AirBnBs in five different cities. Soon students will require of their education what they demand of their frozen yogurt: free rein to explore and experiment, in pursuit of novel (and sometimes challenging) results.

Future State Six

Institutions will court and cultivate dot-connectors.

Make room for 3-D students.

Historically, well-rounded students were prized. Then, institutions recognized the value of the “T-shaped” student, who could think widely and go deep. Tomorrow, we’ll need 3-D students: people with wild minds and a wide field of vision. Think the liberal arts in overdrive — with a rocket pack, a universal translator, and a time machine.

Future State Seven

Institutions will focus more on what they do best and less on how they compare.

Reputation beyond rankings.

Rankings once reigned supreme. Today, forward-thinking institutions are questioning their worth, eyeing indications of their diminishing returns. Tomorrow, schools will be measured by institutional culture, their student experience, and the long-term value of the degrees they offer.

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After working with nearly 150 colleges and universities to develop their brands and their admissions and advancement campaigns, Ologie has a deep understanding of the challenges schools face, the successes they’ve had, and the road ahead. Each client we interact with is different, but they all inform our view of the higher education landscape. This landscape is evolving, in large part because of the work you do.

Together, we’re proud to shape the people who go on to shape the world.

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