Higher Education Accessible To All
Personally, I have always loved the idea of bringing technology and education together. When I see the technology my 7-year-old daughter uses in her schooling and at home and look at all the resources we now have online that did not exist when I was growing up, it gives me great hope for the future. Why, because today education is basically available to anyone who seeks it out. To say “knowledge is power” may be cliche, but it’s true. However, obtaining credentials for what we learn is an entirely different matter.
According to the College Board, an education at a private university will set you back about $128k and over $36k at a public university. Imagine carrying that weight on your shoulders while trying to study and be a successful student. Most college students are dealing with that debt, fresh out of school. Now imagine being a working adult with a family and trying to deal with such a burden.
If we can, we endure this burden because it is a fact of life that over one’s lifetime, college graduates earn 1.2 million dollars more than those who do not graduate. Adults who want the best for their families have either been priced out or simply cannot meet the time requirements to obtain a bachelors degree through traditional means. The idea of addressing issues of economic inequality and attaining career mobility has been a long time coming.
The Working Scholars Program
I recently learned of an education initiative that I am excited to share with everyone. It’s called the Working Scholars Program, but first some background.
Study.com is an online learning platform that has been around since 2002. It provides educational content online for some 30 million students from elementary through post-graduate and it even offers corporate-sponsored professional development.
Study.com has begun an initiative that will level the playing field as far as bringing higher education to people who could not find the time or money to pursue a college degree.
In a conversation I had with Study.com CEO Adrian Ridner, I learned about the Working Scholars program. This is a community-funded free college initiative. The program helps busy adults earn a bachelor’s degree in Business or Liberal Arts, online, at zero cost to the student. Just bring your ambition and desire to succeed. The total reduced cost for a Degree is under $8500 when you factor in discounted fees and low-cost transferable credits. These costs are funded by local businesses, philanthropic organizations, grants, donations and more. For example, Study.com was awarded the $100,000 Mountain View Inspire Grant which is sponsored by Google, LinkedIn, Symantec and other tech companies.
There are currently about 300 students in the Working Scholars Program. All coursework for the program is online and taken through Study.com and Thomas Edison State University. The content consists of short five-minute video sessions that can be viewed on iOS or Android devices as well as on a computer. There are no books. Assignments and exams are all held online. Exams are proctored online and a process is in place to ensure that the person taking the exam is, in fact, the intended student.
Demand is high for this program and the goal is to bring the Working Scholars program to thousands of people yearning to be successful.
Available In Select Communities
For now, the Working Scholars Program is available in select communities in California. The latest community to join the program is our beloved Cupertino. Others include Mountain View, Gilroy, East Palo Alto. Sunnyvale will be coming onboard soon. There are plans to expand the program to other cities in the Bay Area.
This program provides confidence to working students and proves that success is possible. It does this in part by eliminating the worry and cost that comes with a higher education. These students are learning leadership skills and how to build their brand within their communities.
Who Grants The Degree
An obvious question is who grants the degree? Both bachelor degrees in business and liberal arts come from New Jersey-based Thomas Edison State University, which is a four-year accredited university. Students use the College Accelerator Program on Study.com to complete most of the course requirements. These credits are then transferred to Thomas Edison State University. Students then earn the remaining credits through TECEP exams and a capstone course online.
TECEP (Thomas Edison Credit-by-Examination Program) is where students earn credits by taking exams instead of traditional coursework. Students can prep for the tests on Study.com and then take the TECEP exams online through Thomas Edison State University.
How To Participate?
In order to be considered for the program, applicants need to complete The Working Scholars application process. This requires qualified students to fill out a short online survey and complete an initial college readiness and financial literacy course. Applicants are accepted on a first come, first serve basis.
- Applicant must live or work in a participating city
- Be over 13 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
Courses for IT, Computer Science and Healthcare are not currently available but these are on the company’s horizon. Study.com is also looking to expand the program’s reach beyond California in the future.
A Brighter Future
Our congratulations and very best wishes go out to CEO, Adrian Ridner and the entire Study.com team for making the Working Scholars program a reality and bringing the dream of a college education within reach of so many working adults.
For more information visit WorkingScholars.org.