In economic downturns, many people re-consider whether or not they should pursue higher education. This article explores the layers of hardship now on higher education. Two of my alma maters—University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University—are both highlighted. The impacts are much deeper and could last much longer than in other industries.
Online learning isn’t even close to a full solution for these times but it did make me wonder if this is the time for people to pivot careers, carve out new opportunities, or pursue an academic passion they’ve delayed. Can this time of reflection, pain, and discomfort be a rebirth? Can universities and current and prospective students transform higher education in new ways? Will costs come down? Will pre-requisites be dropped? Will non-traditional students and non-traditional paths be more welcome? Will new doors be built and opened where there were only walls before?
If I were the head of a university, these are the questions I’d be asking now. Their survival may depend on the answers.