OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Buy one, get three free

Buy one degree at age 18, get three more "free" for you to cash in on in the future.

Photo of Sarah
2 2

Written by

Very few people have a deep enough understanding of themselves at age 20 when they have to decide on a major, and no one can predict the future career market, which means that many of us will need to go back to school to update our skills in order to remain relevant and/or feel like we are maximizing our contribution and income. So why not plan in advance for continued education throughout our lives? While we are paying for our current degree, we can pay a modicum more for future degrees that we may want to pursue. For example, we could use a "Buy One, Get Three Free" model, wherein I pay for my undergrad degree as I am studying, but the tuition locks me in for another three Master's degrees in the future, should I choose to pursue them. This model decreases the financial barrier for mature students who want to return to school, and encourages higher education institutions to design flexible degree programs. 

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This idea is designed for all college-bound students who require a college level or above degree for their career.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

A financial model, devil's advocate feedback, studying models from alternate worlds

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Survey adults with Bachelor's degrees or above to learn about their satisfaction with their current degree and work, and to see how many have considered returning to school.

Tell us about your work experience:

I studied Biology and Russian undergrad then pursued a Masters in Physical Therapy. I worked as a physical therapist for 13 years in the US in nearly every setting (including running my own business), but felt like I was hitting a creativity/learning/income ceiling. I then enrolled in a full-time MBA program in China, and had an international exchange experience at The Fletcher School and at Harvard Business School. I have finished credits and am now job hunting for a strategy/consulting pos'n.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Sarah,

This is an interesting idea.

Could the additional courses be 'top up' courses or courses that cover new skills needed for the workplace e.g. design thinking, coding, connected leadership, UX design and so on?

Photo of Sarah

Hi Kate! Thanks for your great question. I am really interested in exploring the answer to this, but my initial feeling is that for a program like this to work, the university has to get something back for it. Since some of the measures for the quality of a university are the number of degrees conferred and the graduation rate, I would think that a university would be more compelled to fund students enrolling in a degree program, as opposed to one-off ongoing continuing ed classes.

Additionally, I think there is a bigger barrier for people to enroll in a degree programs because it is so much more of a time and financial commitment, so my initial thought process was to remove this specific barrier.

Perhaps a good solution to your question is that yes, students can take one-off classes as long as they are moving towards a degree at a certain pace. Perhaps the degree can be self-defined, so that students can take classes in whatever interests them and helps them progress toward their goals without being limited by pre-defined degree tracks.

Will you attend the Hackathon on Friday? If yes, I would love to further brainstorm this question together.
Thanks, Sarah