The Class of 2043
It was difficult for her to believe, but Emma was in college, the class of ’43. In only three short years, she would have a bachelor’s degree.
The year was 2040. In the twenty-five years since Emma’s parents went to school, a lot had changed. She was attending Ball State University from her parents’ home in Indianapolis. BSU, in Muncie, IN, no longer had a campus. Everything was online. There were still a few schools with campuses, but even on those campuses most classes were online.
For example, Indiana University offered her a scholarship. It included room and board. But all the lectures were virtual. Sure, she could join study groups at the student union. Meet fellow students at the cafeteria. Attend sporting events, but none of that appealed to Emma. She wasn’t in college to party. She was there to learn.
Today was freshman orientation. Her virtual sub-group included 100 of the more than 8,000 students enrolled in the class of 2043.
The VF (Virtual Facilitator) opened the orientation by welcoming everyone to BSU.
Next, there was a pre-recorded statement from the president of the university. The VF touched on student rights and student services as well as how to sign up for classes and degree programs. After each, he shared links to detailed information. He concluded by sharing how important it was to build relationships. So, each student had been given an orientation buddy and a questionnaire to complete.
Emma’s OB (orientation buddy) was a Lucas. He lived in NYC. Lucas was a neo-steam punker. The sci-fi movement from the 1980s had made a comeback. Young people had revived SP. Lucas wore a black waistcoat and top hat. He had a black leather armband that looped from his shoulder to his wrist. He wore a shiny black nose ring.
“So, this is bullshit, right!”
Emma said, “IDK, maybe we can get something out of it. What’s the first question?”
“Why did you choose BSU? I didn’t. My mom is from Indiana. Can you believe that? She wanted me to go. It’s the only way they’d help me. I mean, I’m not even sure I want to go, ya know.”
“Lucas, I think how we do here is up to us. It’s a choice. I came here because it’s 100% virtual and is highly recommended for my studies.”
“Okay, whatever, second question. How did you choose your major? Yea, right, I don’t have a clue. My mom wants me to take engineering — that’s what she and my dad do, but I’m not feeling it.”
“I choose my major because I want to help and know I can. During my sophomore year in High School, I worked with exceptional children at Bradford Woods, a camp near Martinsville, IN. It gave me a new way to look at the world.”
“You know this is all a bunch of crap, right. I mean, do you think anyone even reads this shit? Let’s just each fill them out and turn it in.”
Or we could go through them; there are only eight more questions.”
As Emma led Lucas through the eight remaining questions, he became more sullen and less communicative. When the questionnaire was complete, she asked, “Have you signed up for your first semester classes yet?”
“I’ve enrolled in two, how about you?”
“I’m all full.”
Feeling guilty about his earlier rudeness Lucas asked, “So, what classes are you taking.”
“Emma smiled. I’m taking an active shooter course, pandemic best practices, coping with anxiety, and virtual Learning 101.”
“So, what is your major, Emma?”
“That should be obvious from my classes. I want to be a teacher.”
Both of my daughters are teachers. The oldest is an elementary school principal. They’ve shared, with me, the challenges of being an educator in the 21st century and how teaching has changed. I wonder what education will look like in 2040.