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A Great Deal for All Parties, a Party for a Great Deal

A win-win proposition for prospective students and progressive employers.

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

Target Audience: Prospective college students without the means to attend a 4-year university. Also, progressive employers with an eye towards change and improved efficiency. How it reimagines the cost of college: Builds off of co-op idea of paying as you go, but with a far more efficient system in place for education in the fields relevant to the student.

After reading a number of research posts, I concluded that there are two major problems with the higher education system right now. One is that there exist people with great potential that will never see that potential realized because they don't have any means of paying the money it takes to get moving. Two is that college costs too much money in the first place.

Essentially the money possessed by the prospective students is lesser than the money required by colleges around the US.

This idea seeks to close this gap from both ends. So starting with the student end, how can we give students more money? Scholarships are limited, so while this is an existing solution that works for some, the majority will remain unable to attend college. Paid co-ops and internships, and tuition reimbursement are also possibilities, but these are limited to those with the college experience and credibility to get the job initially.

On the college end, how can costs be reduced? Online courses present an interesting option; most on-campus colleges' tuition is loaded down with costs relating to facilities unrelated to education at all.  But right now online colleges lack the legitimacy of a campus university, and some of what those physical colleges offer can't be replicated online.

The solution that seems to best solve these problems all at once is this: create a program that pairs students with employers, and provides in-class education to those students only in areas that both the employer and student deem appropriate. The employee works for the employer as a part-time student or as part of a co-op program. In this way, the "cost of college" can be significantly reduced while still maintaining legitimacy. And the student can receive necessary funding while the employer benefits from cost-effective skilled labor.

The most effective way to start a program of this nature is most likely going to require close collaboration with a successful company. The legitimacy of the program hinges on the educators that can be obtained. Once implemented, the cost structure should be much more efficient than the average college, but the initial costs would be relatively high.

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

Pair small but strong companies with high school graduates of good merit, then connect the student with a college willing to offer courses without declaration of a major. The student takes the necessary classes, works while doing so, and the company continues to use and invest further in this program. Eventually the program can become self sufficient; if the program focuses on one industry at a time, faculty can specialize in that area of expertise.

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

I think this idea has potential, but I'd love to hear about ways of making it stronger. Also, feel free to point out any potential pitfalls with this idea that you believe exist.

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Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

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Photo of Kellie Marks
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Hi Elric -

Just CCed you on another post in reference to this contribution.  

On a slightly different note, I'm confused about a few aspects of this proposal:

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<<...create a program that pairs students with employers, and provides in-class education to those students only in areas that both the employer and student deem appropriate>>

Q1: What's the assessment criteria for determining the appropriateness of a certain class?  

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<<Pair small but strong companies with high school graduates of good merit...>>

Q2. Would this be available to all high school grads of good merit, or limited to grads from certain income brackets?

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<<...there are two major problems with the higher education system right now. One is that there exist people with great potential that will never see that potential realized because they don't have any means of paying the money it takes to get moving.>>

Q3: How might companies assess untapped potential in bright young minds who may have lacked the support network needed to excel in high school?


PS - I realize just how how annoying these Qs are, so please feel free to ignore them!

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