Class Size: Millions

Annual cost to go to Stanford (tuition, room & board, books):

1980: $15k
2011:  $60k
2020:  free??

Once upon a time (like when I was 18), a year at Stanford was expensive but still affordable.

So, someone from a middle class, Minnesota family (mine) could swing it with a little financial aid and some loans.


At $60k a year, no way.

In the future, though, thanks to a combination of accelerating technology and shifting academic attitudes, it’s quite possible that anyone can “go” to Stanford — for free!

Or more accurately, audit courses taught there online.

No, the online experience won’t let you partake in late night study sessions, run in the foothills by The Dish, or join in Big Game festivities.

However, if Stanford’s initiative catches on, it’s conceivable that its faculty might go from teaching hundreds or thousands to teaching millions, all over the world.

P.S.:  Full disclosure:  even some of the students who go to Stanford don’t “go to Stanford” — or at least, physically attend all the courses they’re enrolled in.

Thanks to something called “lecture notes” that was just becoming popular when I was there, you could subscribe to a service that provided a “Cliff’s Notes” version of every lecture, later that day, for a wide selection of entry-level courses.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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