What a terrific idea! I would have loved a job-matching system like this in college. It’s challenging to find a summer job, particularly when you are also finishing up finals exams and, in some situations, living in a different location than the one where you plan to work.
One of the aspects I like most about your proposal is that you address both how to earn money and how to save it (i.e. your example of refraining from paying the gym fee). It would be terrific to add in features that allow students to save and manage their money more effectively. Your project reminded me of a company called Juntos (http://juntosglobal.com/), which created a text-based system that allows people to track their purchases and see more clearly how their money is being spent. What about creating a game-based system that challenges students to save towards a goal, with rewards along the way?
I’m looking forward to reading more about this project as it progresses!
What I like best about your idea is that it provides a way to prepare for college that is new, but also familiar. In your proposal you mentioned how confusing it is to figure out how to save for a child’s future education. I suspect that the overwhelming difficulty of figuring out the most effective way to save could cause people to give up altogether. Providing families with a method to save that is an extension of what they are already doing – paying for health insurance, car insurance, etc. – would be one way to reduce stress on families, and perhaps raise their hopes for being able to afford to send children to college.
Here are a couple of questions that I have for you about the content of your proposal:
First: Is it necessary to charge some families more than others for the insurance? There is something in me that balks at the idea of paying different amounts for the same educational opportunities. I understand the economic reasoning behind it; but I worry that it would create feelings of competition and hostility between families. For instance, individuals might find themselves hoping that other neighborhood children do not go to college, as it will keep their own rates down. How would this plan affect the relationships between families, and college students, in similar cohorts? In different cohorts? Could it potentially affect people’s choices about where they live? Who their neighbors are? Could this, in turn, have an effect on a neighborhood’s economy? I am curious of the broader, social impact of the system.
Second: Could you elaborate more on the consequences to families of losing the money that they invested if their children choose not to attend college, or are, for some reason, unable to do so? This is a huge gamble – especially in families where it is a struggle to make payments in the first place. Given how many factors affect whether or not students graduate from college, and that there are other options where they retain their investment should their child not go to college, I’m not sure whether it’s fair to encourage families to take this gamble. What transparency-related issues do you foresee for education insurance? How would companies ensure that families fully understand the huge risk they would be taking?