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Archive for April, 2017

High school students hear, relentlessly, “You have to go to college!” But when underrepresented students look at the graduation rates, they might wonder, “Why are people encouraging me to borrow thousands of dollars to attend an institution in which people like me have a 1-out-of-5 chance of graduating”?

Instead of trying to fit students into a system that’s not designed for them, we decided to change the system. We found a program that’s been successful in Boston; Los Angeles; and Austin, Texas and we’re bringing it here. We identified the seven reasons why folks don’t graduate and solved for those problems.

Reason No. 1: Some people sign up for college without any idea of why they’re there. In our program, that’s where the learning coach comes in. What do you want your career to be in? Most people haven’t really explored a range of different possibilities. Your coach will be in ongoing conversation with you about your interests, and will help you set up informational interviews, job shadows, internships, and a range of possible entry level jobs at different organizations so you can find a career the fills your wallet and feeds your soul. Sometimes we call the coaches “agents.” In our program, you’re going to have an agent who is out hustling for you, accessing our network of people, trying to help you to create new opportunities for yourself.

Reason No. 2: Some people get to class and see, again, another teacher writing equations on a whiteboard and wonder, “Seriously? What does this have to do with my life? When will I ever need this?” The college we partner with solved this by linking up with employers and asking them, “What skills and competencies do your employees need to succeed on the job?” So instead of factoring the cosine of an isosceles triangle, you’ll be asked to demonstrate the ability to “recognize flaws and inconsistencies in an argument” or “generate a variety of approaches to addressing a problem.” Everybody needs to learn how to do those things, no matter what your job is.

Reason No. 3: When things go wrong, when you’re not doing well in a class or when you don’t understand something, many students have no one to ask for help. We built in a solution for that. Every student is assigned a coach whose job is to be there for you no matter what. Personal issues, problems with your courses, issues with classmates, or at your job . . . your coach’s job is to help you solve them. You’re not out there by yourself.

Reason No. 4: Some people have transportation issues that can make getting to campus at a specific time a thorny problem. That’s why the curriculum is available online, at any time. So if your car breaks down or if you get sick and you miss an appointment, it’s cool. We can make it up.

Coming tomorrow, Reason No. 5. To learn more about the program, visit http://studiolearning.us.

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