We met on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 7 PM, ate Chinese food in Silver Spring, MD, and talked. The entire face of higher education has changed.  Distance learning has morphed into online doctorate degrees and free non-credit courses being offered around the world.  What does this do to the brick and mortar, ivy covered, hallowed halls of our country’s education institutions?  What is happening to the stateliness, the prestige, the status?  Is a degree worth as much if the professors have never been seen face to face?  We have to adjust our paradigm.  We have to allow for seekers of education in distant lands dialing into our universities and wading through materials and asking questions of our American professors through Skype.  Classrooms are virtual; students are in every corner of the world.

The trade schools and nationally accredited education institutions are offering degrees on all levels and they are recruiting people to become students by advertising on television, “What are you waiting for?  You are on the phone all day anyway.”  Why don’t you call Everest, Sanford and Brown, IT Tech, Strayer, whatever, and improve your life.

And indeed it will improve their life because those degrees are on their way to becoming as acceptable as any other degree offered anywhere.  What does that mean?  Are we making room for an entirely new work force?  Are we on our way to matrix management where whoever has the best idea or approach gets to lead the task force regardless of their degree origin?

Now let’s look at the positive side of where higher education is going.  Education is becoming more accessible to a larger number of people.  Those who work full time can take classes without attending classes.  MBA programs are being advertised as to be used to enhance your current work value.  Computer courses are promoted as one of the best ways to get noticed and to get ahead in your job.

Money, which has been a great divider of those who can access higher education and those that cannot, seems to be losing its power.   With the advent of slower degree programs and payment plans that allow for a slower pace to complete the degree, more people can enter courses of study and make it a way of life for years.  Higher education is no longer only for the rich and privileged or for the poor and discovered to be brilliant.  It is a National imperative.  The up side of all of this is that more people are able to become more highly educated, regardless of how long it takes and from where the education comes.

As we talked it over, and over, we decided that: more educated people are good for the nation, that we can expect more changes to occur in a short number of years, and we can only wonder, has anyone noticed the changes?