Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Lesson on College Costs in the Future

A certain co-worker of mine delivers rants, opines, and repetitive lectures every single day about the exorbitant cost of college. Despite the annoyance of having to listen to it day in and day out, I do feel for him, as he is in the process of putting two kids through higher ed and it ain't cheap. (I could give you an exact figure as to what each of his kids' college costs per year, but I'm sure can surmise a guess.) Indeed, financial planners around the country emphasize the importance of planning for your kids' future. College expenses are quite worrisome.

At any rate, twenty or so years from now I will likely be in a similar situation as this particular co-worker. I have no kids at press time, but for argument's sake, let's say I will have two kids going to college in the year 2027. On one hand, I'm scared to death as to what college will cost by then. On the other hand, I have to think that the entire paradigm of college will be completely different from what it is today. At least I hope.

As the years go on, college will become increasingly expensive. However, there will have to be a breaking point. A point where people say enough is enough, this doesn't make sense anymore. "Why am I paying $128,000 per YEAR to send my kid to college??? This is insane!" To add to that, life is changing SO fast that college classes will have to change their format to keep up with the pace. For instance, I graduated in 2001 and just six (wow, is it six already?) years later, I feel that 95% of what I learned is irrelevant in my life or outdated. This is nothing against my alma mater (I miss you Happy Valley!). But either technology has surpassed what I used in college (remember when modems and Napster were all the rage?) or the techniques of business and communications have changed so much that I've learned more by surfing the internet in the past few months than from the stale books I had to read for classes.

In the year 2027, today's internet will be long gone, or merely a fossil in the rapidly evolving line of technology. Information on ANYthing will be available instantaneously. Google will actually be imbedded in our minds. Well, you get the drift. So why would parents send their kids to an expensive institution just to learn things that they can get "online"... whatever online entails in 2027? People will be working FOR the internet, not the other way around. Education will be a whole new ballgame.

Putting that all aside, let's just say that I'm totally wrong at this point that learning will be completely different from today's college experience, and instead, kids actually ARE going to college in the same manner as they are today. I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams that the government, businesses, and American citizens will tolerate the price of college skyrocketing at such a tremendous rate as it is today. Either more scholarship and public money will be available for incoming students, or prices will level off. That's Economics 101.

Or maybe it's all just wishful thinking for me...

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