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Make experience a credible form of education.

Could universities partner with outside providers to quickly develop/expand apprenticeship opportunities for their students?

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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

As the landscape of higher ed shifts, many universities are interested in developing co-op programs like Waterloo's to meet the demand from students to have more real-world opportunities. But universities tend to be conservative institutions and aren't moving fast enough to meet demand from students. Experience Institute and other providers could partner with universities to more quickly develop co-op programs and other opportunities for real-world learning.

Experience Institute's mission is to make experience a credible form of education ( We currently run a one-year higher ed program, providing our students with the community, curriculum, and connections to design their own learning through apprenticeships. Ei's model focuses on five core competencies: Self Awareness, Community Building, Storytelling, Business Operations, and Human Centered Design, and then provides the framework to help students apply these competencies in their apprenticeships. There are other programs like Experience Institute that are also bridging education and work, that could partner with universities to much more quickly expand co-op opportunities for students.

Other possibilities might include partnering with existing student support programs like the UBS-SEO College Scholars program to make a supported apprenticeship program one piece of the wrap-around support provided to first time college students. 

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

Ei currently runs a one-year program that is in its third year. We are also piloting a 3-month version this summer in Chicago, modeled after the one-year program, but geared especially to undergrads. See more re: what we've learned from early prototypes in the attachment.

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

We know that having a paid apprenticeship during one's undergrad experience is extremely valuable - it can help students clarify their focus, increase motivation, build real-world skills, and provide needed income. But we also know being able to earn college credits for the apprenticeships is crucial to making this accessible to students. We are working with a third-party PLA org to review our program, but could use help connecting to faculty and deans who might be interested in collaborating.

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Attachments (1)


What are the key elements of the Ei program that lead to student success? Where can Ei improve? How do college students perceive the opportunity to participate in an "Ei Leap Semester" during undergraduate career? Running our one-year program for three cycles has helped us develop more clarity on these questions. The attached document articulates key learnings from these early prototypes.


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