What you learn is important. Who you learn from is everything.
You have to learn from the best to be the best. Skills, habits, hacks, attitude, approach… all of that can be passed from expert to apprentice, mentor to mentee, and teacher to student.
At Besomebody, we have a strong point of view on education. We’re building a platform to make it more affordable, practical and passion-based. We’re focusing on skills, and we want to help people get jobs. But the entire time we’ve been building, we’ve been learning too, from the best.
In the last 18 months, I’ve had the chance to learn from some of the most inspiring educators at some of the world’s most prestigious colleges – Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Rice, Penn State, Columbia and Stanford. There’s no question that the gold standard for learning is still America’s top-tier universities. Those schools give you much more than a classroom. The entire college EXPERIENCE enables multi-sensorial growth and a lifetime of opportunities.
But not everyone can go to those schools (the Ivy League, for example, represents just 0.1% of all undergraduate college students). And many of those who CAN get into the top schools can’t afford it. The cost of college is more expensive than ever – even when adjusting for inflation, college tuition has increased more than 500% over the last 30 years. Many people are now realizing they don’t want to get saddled with decades of student debt. And even beyond the expense, some people just have different learning styles, different needs, different circumstances and different aspirations that don’t make four-year colleges – even the best ones – the best option for them.
So what are their options?
There are about 7.5 million people going to community college in the U.S. Those people paid a total of $17 BILLION in tuition last year.
Let that sink in for a minute.
The ROI on that $17 Billion is abysmal. The average graduation rate for all U.S. Community Colleges is widely debated, – and, allegedly, inflated – however, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, it’s about 39%. Some big city Community Colleges have much lower rates, including City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College (9%), Houston Community College (11%), Los Angeles City College (14%), CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College(15%) and even the City College of San Francisco (31%), which sits in the shadow of Silicon Valley.
And most importantly, job placement rates are even lower. Very few people get jobs directly due to their community college and/or associates degrees, even though they work hard and spend 2-6 years (often while working full or part-time) to get them. The average annual cost for tuition at a community college is about $10,000. I’ve found community college professors and administrators to be just as passionate as their 4-year counterparts, however, the system is failing them and their students.
Over a dozen have been shut down within the last two years for literally scamming students. Nearly 2 million people were enrolled in these types of schools in 2015. And, nearly 90% of for-profit funding comes from taxpayer dollars (though the government is looking to change that now). A whopping 96% of for-profit school students take out loans (with awful, awful terms) to pay the tuition which can reach upwards of $25,000/year!
For-profit colleges cost about twice as much as public colleges, according to a new Student Loan Hero survey. For example, the average cost-per-credit for in-state residents at a public, four-year college is $325. At a for-profit college, the cost-per-credit is $647 – nearly twice as much. That means for-profit college students pay $38,640 more for a 120-credit-hour undergraduate degree than their counterparts at public colleges. Overall, for-profit school tuition is about twice as expensive public four-year colleges, and 5 times as expensive as public two-year colleges.
For-profit graduation rates are shockingly low, hovering around 22%. And if students do graduate, they end up with an average student debt balance of $40,000 – that’s about 60% higher than the averages of students at public colleges (which is still very high, at about $25,000). And as you can imagine, their job placement rates are awful, and unpublished.
And maybe what is most disappointing, for-profit schools spend nearly 25% of their budget on advertising (the University of Phoenix, for example, a large for-profit school, spends about $100 Million a year on advertising). That’s even more than they do on actual teaching and instruction (17%).
These schools are toxic.
And both community colleges and for-profit schools fail to give their nearly 10 million students the true “college experience” that we all agree is important. The vast majority are strictly ‘commuter schools’, with no campus life, limited extracurriculars and sparse student involvement.
Neither of these two “non-top-tier college” options are good ones.
The data clearly shows they leave most people deceived, in debt, and unemployed. The teachers and professors aren’t the problem. I’ve met a lot of them. They are working hard to make a difference. The problem is the model and the system.
I didn’t always know all this. I was kinda oblivious to it. I went to a great university and – while I admittedly didn’t learn much in a classroom – those four years of extracurriculars, relationships, networking and experiences set me up for success. But, over the last four years, I’ve learned in a different way – from real people, all across the country. They shared their problems and brought to life these issues. I’ve also been grateful to learn from academics and experts from Boston to Texas to Silicon Valley, as we’ve shaped and launched our Besomebody Paths. We believe we can build a better model. We believe we can be part of the solution. We believe we can help a lot of people who the system is hurting right now. And 100% of the people I’ve met, believe we can too.
We are gonna give it our best shot.