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Everyone is eager for the new possibilities promised by 2021. College students are no exception, and they will not be disappointed. Here are some of the higher education trends on the horizon for the new year.

Flexible Environment

Online education has been a growing presence in the world for the past few years now. Students in 2021 are going to enjoy even more flexibility in terms of where and how they move through their academic journeys. Previous to this coming year, the landscape of online education has been somewhat limited. Most students had to choose between fully online or fully in person programs. Hybrid programs that did exist were difficult to navigate and plan for, because the in-person and online aspects were not purposefully designed to coexist. Heading into 2021, schools and programs are redesigning courses and entire degree programs to allow students more control over their in-person versus online ratio and schedule. Professors and staff are receiving more targeted training on best practices for online and higher education.


The revolution of online and hybrid learning is possible due to several tech trends emerging in higher education. Schools are incorporating artificial intelligence into their learning technology systems, allowing students easier access to resources and providing professors with advanced teaching and grading tools. Virtual reality is also making its way into higher education, providing the enhanced interactive experience between professors and peers that online students often miss and stimulating motivation.


The combination of these technological advancements and the past year’s focus on resolving social inequalities will result in a trend toward greater diversity in higher education. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds will have more access due to the flexibility and affordability of online education. Online education allows for military students and international students access to an academic career from anywhere in the world. More institutions are creating shorter condensed and technical programs that allow students quality career training and apprenticeship without committing time and financial resources they do not have to degrees they do not require.

Despite a growing online presence in higher education, many individuals have still not found the right academic paths. In the coming year, schools are committed to closing the remaining gaps. Trends in technological advancements and a commitment to making the most of them have set up schools and programs to accommodate more students and provide them with a higher quality education in 2021.