What will college life be like In 100 Years Students predict, Sorting hats to pick your major? Admissions decisions based solely on social media profiles. Nap pods. Cafeteria food crafted via 3D printers. And dorm-to-classroom teleportation.
These are a few of the many ideas my students recently brainstormed in response to a single question: What will college life be like in 100 years?
Building off these simultaneously dispiriting and exciting present-day realities, my students were tasked with playing undergraduate prognosticator. I compelled them to predict or simply wildly imagine the inventions, routines, events, locations, individuals, and traditions which may be upended or urgently utilized to run colleges and universities on a daily basis in the 22nd century. They were free to consider areas such as classes, sports, housing, partying, study abroad, the semester schedule, the cafeteria, the library, tuition costs, studying, student romance, general social interactions, and campus parking.
Instead of grand-scale philosophizing, I asked them to think small, pitching a vision of how something specific might function on a college campus in or around the year 2118.
Below is a sampling of their responses. Collectively, they seem to speak to a larger student desire to engage in and benefit from a future college experience that is much more high-tech, fast-paced and sleep-friendly.
“In 100 years, higher education will be global — literally. Due to the ease and availability of traveling at the speed of light, colleges and universities will hold classes worldwide. A student can pop into their 8 a.m. Introduction to Spanish class in Madrid and then head over to Shanghai for their 10 a.m. course, Chinese History: From Mao to Now.” – Matthew Haubenstein, a senior communications major at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU)
“In 100 years, students will live in the moment — and experience many past moments. Why? Two words: time travel. Students in history classes will rocket back to the periods or events they are studying. They can enjoy a front-row seat for the first staging of a Shakespeare play, check out the Civil War (from a safe distance) or relive the making of the Hoover Dam or Panama Canal. The hands-on understanding they will gain about the related individuals, events and issues will make professors’ PowerPoints or Prezis seem embarrassingly out of touch.” –Jessica Sweeney, a senior English major at SJU
In 100 years, picking a college major will no longer be on a trial-and-error basis. Instead, in the same vein as the sorting hat from “Harry Potter,” students will spend part of freshmen orientation being “sorted” into different majors. An advanced version of the Melon brainwave headband will measure students’ neuronal connections and determine which major is the best fit based on their personalities, skill-sets, and personal interests. However, just like in “Harry Potter,” students will still have final say over what they end up studying.” – Leigh Anne Tiffany, the senior biology major at SJU
“In 100 years, the traditional college admissions process will be dead. No more boring applications, personal essays, SAT scores or reference letters. Instead, students will be judged solely by their Facebook profiles — from the seriousness of the news they share on their feeds and the types of pages they like to the intellectual aptitude of their Facebook friends and the quality of their profile and cover photos. For graduate school, students’ Twitter and Instagram accounts will also be considered.” – Denise Sciasci, the senior English major at SJU
“In 100 years, the surface of the Earth will be uninhabitable. This means prospective college students will have one of two options for continuing their schooling: traveling far, far away to one of a multitude of space station universities spread across the galaxy or heading underground to schools up and running just below the surface. For undergraduates missing the feeling of fresh air and sunshine, technology will help recreate artificial environments which look and smell exactly like a traditional college campus or a Spring Break locale.” – Tiffany
“In 100 years, colleges will be even more concerned with illness. With diseases such as Ebola spreading evermore rampantly worldwide, students, faculty, and staff will be required to have their temperatures screened and bodies scanned for potentially dangerous symptoms before being cleared to enter classrooms and residence halls.” – Kristin DeCarlo, a junior communications major at SJU
“In 100 years, large touch screens will fill the walls of campus buildings. This advancement will eliminate a staple of college life: excessive amounts of flyers tacked, posted and taped everywhere. Instead, students can simply walk up to a touchscreen and design and share a virtual memo or scroll through upcoming activities by category. Through functions on the screen, students will also be able to immediately interact with the organizers of any events they are interested in and virtually RSVP to everything they are planning to attend.” – Kelly Patterson, a senior marketing major at SJU
“In 100 years, doing laundry on campus will be a breeze. With the invention of smart hampers, washers and dryers will be viewed like payphones are today. Students will no longer be forced to wait for their peers to finish their own laundry, worry about someone stealing their clothes or deal with people taking their stuff out of the machines. Saving up quarters will also no longer be necessary. Instead, students will put their dirty clothes in a smart hamper, snap their fingers and smile as they are washed, dried, pressed and folded in a flash.” – Kayla Soders, a senior communications major at SJU
“In 100 years, college campuses will sport Nap Pods. In between classes or before big exams, students can sneak into a pod for a 20-minute nap — rejuvenating their brains and bodies without being forced to race back to their dorm rooms. The pods will feature adjustable temperature settings, specialized music playlists and a range of natural sounds to help students drift into peaceful 22nd-century slumber.” – Mary Kate Viggiano, a junior communications major at SJU
“In 100 years, campus parking will be revolutionized. The source of this revolution: hovercrafts. In garages across campus, students will layer their hover-cars on top of one another up to 10 stories high — making the most of a single parking space and rendering “Lot Full” signs a relic of the past.” – Alli Murray, a junior communications major at SJU
“In 100 years, schools will no longer call upon C-list stars to provide entertainment. Instead of the likes of Aaron Carter or Dave Coulier, students can fight to secure the holograms of any living or dead performer carrying out one of their signature shows or acts. Think Tupac, Elvis, Michael Jackson or Robin Williams.” – Sweeney
“In 100 years, terrible food will be banished from college campuses. Instead of pre-processed slop aiming to appease everyone, all food will be personalized and created via 3D printers. The printers will allow students to choose exactly what they want to eat and even upload their moms’ recipes to be replicated in seconds in the cafeteria.” – Emily Heitzman, the senior communications major at SJU
“In 100 years, students will not trudge through rain, snow, and humidity to get to class. Instead, they will teleport. Portals built to fit students of all shapes, sizes, class years, GPAs, and blood-alcohol levels will be located in residence halls and academic buildings across campuses. For a small fee, the portals can also be used for off-campus transport or to have a library book or forgotten ID card delivered right to students’ dorm-room doors.” – Murray
“In 100 years, college graduations will double as employment ceremonies. Representatives from established and start-up companies and organizations will be waiting at the end of the stage students walk on to receive their diplomas. Only seconds after a graduate’s name is called, they will be offered a starting position related to their area of interest or field of expertise. In the 22nd century, commencement selfies will feature smiling students, sporting a cap and gown, diploma and job offer in hand.” – Olivia McEachern, junior English major at SJU
“In 100 years, dorm living will be much more comfortable. Bed technology will have developed to the point that students can program comfort settings at ease — from the firmness and exact temperature of the mattress to a noise-reduction option to blot out snoring roommates. Most importantly, at long last, for the first time in the history of higher education, dorm rooms will contain beds that are actually long enough for tall people to fit on.” – Brian Rademacher, junior international relations major at SJU