45 million American adults have some college and no degree.
With 95% of jobs created in the US since the recession going to folks with a college degree - and the expectation that 60% of all jobs in Texas will require the same by 2020 - the need for college graduates is urgent. Americans know their future is brighter with a college degree - so thousands enroll each year but end up dropping out, because college wasn’t built for them ... even though they’re the students who benefit from a degree the most.
The obstacles are real: students without a degree struggle to earn a livable wage, change careers, get a promotion into management, or provide for their families.
Yet the answer isn’t as simple as just “going back to school” - the barriers they first faced have only become more imposing with time.
Historically in higher education, innovation has simply been layered on top of the existing system of credit-hour courses and semesters. Students who work, commute, and attend part-time need a better pathway to their degree, but most programs just add services alongside this traditional structure rather than rethinking college for working adults.
What if we designed a college program around the needs of non-traditional students instead of forcing their complex lives into a system that graduates only 16% of its part-time students?
Few people are tackling this problem for nontraditional students, but working adults need flexibility and support in a college pathway.
We've seen that an effective solution is to blend competency-based online education with personalized, in-person support to consistently graduate students without insurmountable debt.
Why Competency-Based Online Education?
We send students only to schools that are competency-based, regionally-accredited, non-profit, and online. Here's why:
- They are the most flexible option for folks who have to work full-time to pay their bills - students can work on school when they're able.
- Students can earn workforce-aligned credentials
- They afford students a faster way to earn their degree
- Degrees are much more affordable - a year at College for America costs $3000 for unlimited credits.
Why In-Person Support?
The key to success is community and student support— something two-year institutions currently struggle with. Returning adults have already failed once at college and often believe that they can’t be successful.
- Students need individualized support— someone to cheer them on and help navigate the complexities of school and work
- Students need consistent accountability - they need someone checking on their progress and helping them get back on track when they fall behind.
- Students need community to show them what's possible, offer and receive help, and support them.