TitleThe Future of Higher Education: What’s the Life Course Got to Do with It?
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSettersten, RA, Schneider, B
EditorSchneider, B
Book TitleHandbook of the sociology of education in the 21st century
Pagination457 - 471
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
CityNew York
ISBN Number978-3-319-76692-8

Recent decades have brought dramatic changes to both human lives and higher education. This chapter examines what changes in the life course mean for higher education, and vice versa. We address the relevance and vitality of higher education in the contemporary life course, as well as its potential for offsetting the life-course risks and discontinuities faced by the diverse populations it now serves. We describe how higher education can play more significant roles in responding to the vulnerabilities of students, strengthening the transition to adulthood through stable pathways to jobs and careers, fostering relationships and networking opportunities, and refining the boundaries of personal and financial independence from parents. Higher education can also be reimagined by infusing into curricula and learning experiences a broader set of skills than it now does—skills that are less about securing jobs and salaries, and more about finding meaning in and managing the uncertainties and complexities of adult life. It can also be reimagined by reaching potential students who are in midlife and beyond. These goals are necessary if higher education is to have both stronger effects on the life course as well as a bigger place in the life course.

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