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Education Predictions for 2010

Feb 1, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

The economic recession has affected every aspect of life in America—including education. Some of the effects have already been felt in terms of tighter lending practices to students, fewer aid dollars available and fewer jobs waiting when students graduate. But other trends are more positive—suggesting a rise in technology’s role in the classroom and a stronger case for online education. Here are a few predictions we’ve made for education in the year 2010.

Man and Laptop



Social networking will play a bigger role in education

Teachers already keep tabs on their students via Facebook—and with so many students and teachers online, it’s likely that Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites will play a bigger role in education—especially for online education. It’s our prediction that students and teachers will continue to use these tools to connect for educational purposes—and they will be integrated into the classroom for traditional schools as well.

Online education will gain ground

Online education is already gaining in terms of legitimacy and quality. There have been several studies in the past few years that demonstrate employers are starting to view it in a more positive light—and other studies, such as the Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning performed by the Department of Education, suggest that online learning outperforms traditional education in some cases. It’s our prediction that online education will continue to gain ground and legitimacy in the eyes of employers.

More online classes at traditional school

As online degrees become more common and employers start to accept them more, we predict a stronger demand for traditional schools to offer classes online—driven by the convenience and ability of nontraditional students to work online classes around jobs and family responsibilities. As colleges are increasingly strapped for cash as endowments shrink, we also predict they’ll find the affordability of administering online classes very appealing.

You’ll be able to download more of your textbooks

E-readers are growing in popularity—and students have been complaining about the high costs of college textbooks for a long time. We predict that textbooks will become more widely available online in the coming months in response to better e-reading technologies and the demand by students for more affordable textbooks.

School won’t get that much easier to pay for

President Obama’s requested budget included an increase in Pell Grant funding, and new programs like the Income-Based Repayment program may have some long-term effects in making life easier for cash-strapped graduates. But endowments and state grant funding pools are shrinking, and according to the College Board, college tuition in the 2009-2010 academic year is continuing to rise—much faster than wages. While grant aid has risen in 2008 and 2009 and will probably continue to rise, we predict borrowing will rise faster—as well as the gap between tuition and help for students. 

Student lending will get tighter

After they’ve exhausted all their grant and federal loan options, most students turn to private lenders to help them pay for what’s left over in tuition costs. But lenders have gotten more careful about who they lend money to in all areas of the market—and we predict they’ll continue to look at not only your credit score, but also your major, your projected earnings when you graduate, your job prospects and the graduation rate of the college you attend before deciding to give you a loan. If you’re a humanities or philosophy major, it might be harder for you to get a student loan in 2010 than it will be for a business major.

studetn on chair with laptop

Students will be more price-conscious

Gone are the days when students and parents choose a school without considering price and debt. A decade ago, it was common for high school counselors to tell students to apply to schools regardless of price, telling them “if you really want to go, you can make it work.” Today’s graduating high school students have seen the havoc heavy debt has wreaked in the lives of their older relatives and friends—and student debt is in the news now more than ever.

In 2010, we predict students will increase their awareness of student debt and start thinking about its effect on their lives after graduation—without assuming that there will be a lucrative job waiting for them on the other end of college. We predict tuition cost and debt load will start to play a bigger role in students’ choices of which college to attend.

Schools will be forced to make education relevant

In tough economic times, it’s hard to justify getting in debt to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars just for the opportunity to expand your intellectual horizons—as valuable as that may be. We predict that schools will be increasingly called upon to justify high tuition by making the connection between school and work more apparent. That will translate into more work-focused classes and more aggressive efforts to champion students as job applicants after graduation.

President Obama has demonstrated a commitment to making college more affordable—but we don’t see the entire structure of higher education tuition and payment changing in 2010 as a result. Realistically, while some programs may do some to help, it’s likely that online education will do more to make college affordable and accessible than slight increases in federal grant availability and other incremental changes. We predict both negative and positive trends in 2010—and hope for a productive year in which all your educational goals are met.


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