College Insights · Article

COLLEGE 2030™: Transforming the Student Experience

A girl student wearing a cap and specs writing something on her notepad
February 24, 2021

The dawn of a new decade is a symbolic moment, creating a natural opportunity both to look back and to turn our gaze resolutely forward. In 2021, after an eventful past year, the time is ripe to take stock and examine what the future holds for higher education.

As a community, we’ve already been evolving at a rapid pace to meet the immediate needs and changing preferences of the students we serve. Over the next 10 years, we will continue and accelerate that evolution, shaping an environment where the new student experience will flourish. It will be more flexible, highly personalized, and laser focused on new outcomes, well-being and lifelong learning.

The COLLEGE 2030: Transforming the Student Experience report examines where we are today and where we’re going: a brighter, more impactful and forever transformed future for higher education.

Redefining the value, role and impact of higher education

College 2030 aligns industry expertise from Barnes & Noble Education with the voices of college students, faculty, and administrators nationwide to form a powerful industry outlook.

Taking an inclusive and collaborative approach to the report was vital: over the next decade, college life, academics, and retail and support services will only become more intertwined. Ultimately, we identified several high-priority areas for collaborative action.


Build a new academic experience that is hyper-personalized and immersive, exceedingly flexible, and available on-demand. By re-engineering outdated models, frameworks, and measurements, we can craft an environment based on how students learn, knowing the learning process is as unique as the student.

Enhance the value of education
by aligning with evolving needs and priorities that have come 
to the forefront during the pandemic. Building out the educational experience around skills development and lifetime learning while focusing on post-grad success will provide the highest value to students.

Deliver a seamless customized experience by creating a holistic life services model that all students can access at every touchpoint of their college journey. Treating students like the discerning consumers they are, we will make data-driven decisions while leveraging new technology to deliver services in a customer-focused manner.

College 2030 takes a deep dive into each of these areas, providing:

  • Data-driven insights to help institutions make solid decisions today, firmly positioning them for 2030 and beyond
  • An overview of what college students need and how they will learn, study, socialize, and work in our transformed world
  • Support for institutions’ strategic planning process, focused on their growth and longevity – and value for students
  • Extensive industry insights and understanding of market and technological forces to build the optimal college experience
"The pandemic did not change the path for higher education, but it did change the speed at which we're traveling on that path. Within the next 10 years, we will see a transformation of the student experience – from admission through graduation – that will ultimately create a better, more inclusive and smarter world." - Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, BNED

From any view, higher education has a dynamic decade ahead. Download COLLEGE 2030™: Transforming the Student Experience to explore how we can work together to support student success and define the way forward.

Download the Report

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