Take Tommy, for example. Tommy is a high school senior at a public school in the suburbs of Maryland. He was adopted by his foster parents in middle school and feels indebted to them for their support. He has worked hard throughout his school years, excelling in math and science, and Tommy has just been admitted to Princeton University as a, Aerospace Engineering major, where the cost of a traditional Bachelor's degree is $63,720 per year for four years.
This opportunity is a dream come true for Tommy, and he has worked hard to earn it, but his adoptive mother is a school teacher, and his adoptive father works for BGE. With his parents combined incomes, Tommy was only offered $25,000 per year (calculated with approximate numbers on the Princeton Aid Calculator), but he knows that his parents cannot afford the rest of the cost. Tommy is so self-conscious about asking his parents for help that he is hiding his admission...
UNTIL! Tommy discovers an appealing option: a Professional Track Bachelor's Degree in Aerospace Engineering. This alternative to the traditional Bachelor's degree is streamlined to produce work-force-ready graduates in minimal time: about 2.5 years. This option cuts the overall cost of Tommy's undergraduate education from $254,880 to $159,300. With Tommy's financial aid award, his overall cost is down to $109,300, including room and board, which seems much more reasonable of an ask on his parents.
Tommy worries at first that he will miss out on the traditional college experience, along with breadth course work to develop his perspective, but Tommy knows exactly what career he wants to pursue, and he is excited to get started. He will still have the experience of living on campus in the dorms, being part of a curious intellectual community, and immersing himself in school work, but at just over half of the cost.
With this alternative option, the Professional Track Bachelor's Degree, Tommy resolves to share the news with his parents. They are elated with Tommy's achievement, and as a family, Tommy and his parents come up with a plan for Tommy to graduate in 2.5 years, with only $10,000 in student debt, fully qualified and prepared to begin working as a full-time engineer immediately after graduation.
We believe it is possible for a student with a narrow focus to develop the appropriate skills for their desired career in less time at lower cost by eliminating some of the excess requirements. The goal is to educate students at the Bachelor's degree level in the same amount of time as an Associate's degree in the field of their choice without sacrificing their depth of knowledge and preparation for working life.
Implementing a program like this presents is not without its challenges. We've spoken to employers from different technical fields to redesign college curricula to produce employable candidates in less time. We've attached sample curricula for business and engineering.
Universities have been traditionally run with the idea of providing a holistic learning experience with quite a lot of emphasis on the breadth requirements. Convincing them to provide a career-oriented track, especially one with an industry-designed curriculum might prove difficult.