Okay, it's the year 2025.  In 1968, a duo called Zager and Evans wrote a song called "In The Year 2525".  The songs starts out with, in the year 2525, if man is still alive...   For this article, since none of us will be around in 2525, let's go with 2025.

Let's start by saying that I'm not a scientist or someone that predicts the future.  But, I have worked on the vendor side of higher education for over 30 years and have watched the progress or lack of progress with hundreds of colleges.  My thoughts are mine, they may seem wild, uninformed or just plain funny, but here it goes.

It's 2025 and yes, man is still alive.  Student loans have reached a level of three trillion dollars and climbing.  Banks and the government have stopped writing or underwriting new student loans.  The private college's that are left have a tuition rate average of $100,000.  Tuition discounts are averaging 70%. Online degrees of all sorts account for over 60% of all degrees.  Clinical campuses have popped up throughout the country to support the needs of online students.

In 2018 and beyond the very youngest of our population found themselves with mobile computer abilities that no one could really imagine.  The digital world of advertising was exploding and driving decisions based on quick and easy procedures.  Now it's 2025 and these young people are planning their future and how to get the best training.  Corporations have taken over a lot of the very specific training of employees and are now offering incentives for employees, once trained, to stay.  Loyalty and security was being built back into a system that saw many decades of decay.  Instead of employees leaving jobs every year or so, they are now staying and seeing a bright future and security.  Something that hasn't been seen since the 1970's.

Large hospitals also have gotten into the world of training employees, not just for administrative duties but also for future doctors and nurses.  What changed, is that the hospitals built education campuses on site and brought promising students in from high school to train them.  The hospitals already have the talent and equipment and what better place to learn, than on site.  

Public colleges across America had seen such a decrease in state, county and national funding over the past several years that by 2025, they have been forced to charge tuition rates similar to their private college counterparts.  The campuses that are left are coping with the high cost of human capital and the many years of campus deferred maintenance.

I would hate to think that colleges and universities will go away completely.  That would be very sad, unnecessary and devastating to the economy.  The social aspect of going to college will start to show new meaning as our young people reach out from their mobile computers to see how great it feels to talk to others face to face.  Yes, we will probably have implanted chips by 2025 to monitor our health and physical location, but not for learning.  At least, not yet. 

The successful colleges and universities in 2025 have shown the importance of personal interaction.  They have also helped their graduates pay down student loans and find employment commensurate with their knowledge and debt load.  They will have partnered with local, state and national companies, both for profit and not for profit, to educate for need.  Shared costs between the corporations and colleges will help make up for the shortfall from government assistance. All levels of government will follow a similar training profile of companies, but will also partner with colleges for the expertise involved in getting that training.  

In 2025 or maybe even 2035, it will be all about working together to educate all aspects of our society.  There are many obstacles that will stand in our way, but as we have seen recently, our young people will be the driving forces necessary to have a bright, rewarding and safe future.  Sure, some of these partnerships are going on now, but the need to speed it up is coming soon.

There are countries that have already adopted some of these partnerships between government, corporations and colleges. Build a strategic plan now that looks out to at least 2025 and talk with your stake holders to see what they want, not what you think they want.  Do focus groups with students, academics, administrators, parents, corporate leaders, government officials and alumni to help plan the future.  Don't just throw a bunch of big words and long sentences on paper that no one reads or follows.  Make all stakeholders responsible for their part of the plan.  Then follow through and execute the findings.  Of course, you won't please everyone and that should never be the goal.  Build something that makes sense.  Let's hope 2025 shows us the promise that it can be.  We certainly don't want to wait until 2525. And yes, let's hope man is still alive.