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Solving the Problems of Higher Education

Student Debt and Higher Ed

Why is Debt-Free higher education so important?

The current financial model of higher education has created a $1.73 trillion U.S. student loan debt problem for the U.S. economy. Out of the 69% of students who took an average of $37k in student loans, 60% of students fail to complete their programs and graduate. In addition, in 2017, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts figures, the calculated total of federal, state, and local governments spent a combined total of $172.4 billion on major higher education programs. Therefore, trillions of dollars are wasted time, energy, and money. Plus, this problem is only getting worse. Combined with inflation and the institution of higher education, mostly keep raising their tuition rates, graduates now owe a little over 25% more than they did ten years ago. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, “nationwide college debt increased by 91% between 2011 and 2021.” In addition, the College Board said that tuition for an “undergraduate degree at a public school increased by 213% since the 1980s.” This financial reality, as a result, leads to a diminishing value of the degree program as students choose new alternatives that lead to better and more relevant careers. The worst-case scenario is students who start college don’t finish and quit before earning a credential. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, “more than 40% of bachelor’s degree candidates don’t finish in six years” and that ” 36 million people have dropped out with no degrees or certificates to show for their time in college—but often with student loan debt to repay.” According to Forbes, this “creates a big problem for nearly 40 million Americans—roughly 20% of the working-age population—that only have some college credits, no degree, and tens of thousands of dollars in debt that anchors them down for the rest of their lives.” This enormous problem emphasizes the need for Stackable Credentials and the better management of students in loans.

Affordability Matters

Why is Subscription Tuition Better?

Most colleges and universities are expensive and inefficient and take student loans and government subsidies, regardless of whether or not their students succeed. At Accredicity, we believe this is fundamentally broken and must take a different approach. This is why we decided to use a Student-Centric Subscription Tuition Model in combination with a simple fee approach that does not cripple our students with an unbearable debt for life. A subscription tuition model also greatly simplifies the admission process with fee simple options that accelerates the time to complete the enrollment process and get started on your program. With a greater decline in enrollment of students seeking associate degrees, Accredicity is focused on students choosing new credentialing alternatives that lead to careers instead of traditional educational institutions. Today’s students are interested in flexible, debt-free education opportunities to prepare them for today’s job market. The subscription model makes higher education accessible at a price that does not incur any personal debt. This is highly attractive for a new generation of students who do not want to be crippled by student debt like the previous generation and are familiar with the value of subscription models in other industries. With Accredicity’s higher education subscription-based tuition, you choose how fast or slow you want to go. By controlling the duration of the program, students also control the total cost of tuition. The faster you complete your program, the more affordable your tuition will be. Your motivation and hard work are directly correlated and incentivize you to complete your program in a shorter amount of time. No more huge tuition bills regardless of your effort or needing student loans whether you complete the program or not. Say hello to simplified tuition and get a Professional Certificate on your terms, all with one simple monthly payment. This tuition model is simple and affordable and motivates the students to complete their education and become graduates in less time than traditional credit hour programs.

Return on Investment

Is Higher Education worth it?

In short, yes. However, higher education has lost relevance in the workplace, and it’s not affordable to most individuals. The facts on the ground are that degree-holders with Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates earn a premium of more than $30,000 and make more income over their lifetime compared to a student with just a high school diploma. With many complex issues ranging from the massively expensive tuition fees and the ever-growing student debt program coupled with declining public trust in educational institutions and ultimate serious concerns about the work-readiness of graduates has left many education leaders to question whether the worth of higher education will continue in the future. This is why, at Accredicity, we believe we need to create an affordable university for students, especially without taking on any debt. We find it unacceptable that private loan provider companies make so much money from people simply seeking to improve their lives and community. Therefore, at Accredicity, we know that now that online education has become more mainstream, more individuals will want competency credentialing, leading to gainful employment at a relatively low subscription-based tuition. Because what ultimately matters, it’s not where students enroll that matters more; it’s whether students can enroll in a school that helps them make the most of their education. Affordable higher education to help prepare everyone for the jobs of the future will make higher education worth its cost in the future and prove to parents that students are getting a good return on their investment.

What is the ROI of Higher Education?

In the U.S., higher education has been on the decline, with enrollments down in the millions of students for the last ten years has contributed to the public trust eroding because of a continuous cycle of unmitigated increases in tuition, admission and financial aid scandals, and ever-growing student loan debt problem. The U.S. Higher education system has been the envy of the world and a major part of the American Dream but can’t just exist for its own sake. It needs to be worth the cost. Higher education has many different customers: students and parents, plus taxpayers and employers, to make it more complicated. Higher education has been criticized for not adequately preparing students with relevant real-world skills to succeed in life and the workplace. On the other hand, it leaves them crippled in debt for years as they struggle to pay back student loans. When costs increase and the returns appear to be diminishing, consumers naturally increase the scrutiny of their investments which led to the decline in student enrollment and many institutions closing in the past five years. Unfortunately, this decline in consumer confidence and the negative perception of a diminishing return on investment (ROI) contradicts that getting a higher education remains a long-term positive high-value investment for graduates. On average, the economic investment in higher education is worth the investment. However, we should not be satisfied with the status quo, and we should be working hard to lower the cost of higher education because it’s the main barrier to enrollment and graduation rates. This is why at Accredicity, we believe the key to unlocking the value proposition of higher education is work-aligned credentials that lead to fast-growing jobs in the future.

Higher Education That’s Worth the Cost

Yes, a multidisciplinary micro-degree is worth it for many working professionals. You can sign up for Accredicity tuition-free, you can apply for $10, and enrolling in our certificate program is only $100 per month. Education is worth the cost when it’s relevant to being successful at work and in life. Therefore, you can pursue your personal and professional development without spending a lot of time or money or getting student loans. In some cases, this multi-disciplinary program’s flexibility and shorter length allow professionals to work full-time to earn marketable credentials. At Accredicity, our programs cost a fraction of a traditional university education while preparing students to find work in high-paying, high-growth career fields immediately.

A New Vision for Higher Education

Our world is ever-changing, and higher education has not been changing with it. Higher education has fallen far behind the times and has been ripe for transformation for a long time. In the end, the challenges of higher education result in a diminishing value of the degree program as students choose new alternatives that lead to better and more relevant careers. However, at Accredicity, we believe this new vision to become the world’s first credential university combined with massive action will reinvent the future of higher education. We aim to credential students, reward educators, and empower employers to transform the future of higher education. Awareness of this vision inspired us to go beyond and create a new model for higher education. It pushed us to redesign a new paradigm entirely to build the school of a lifetime for a lifetime of learning. This new vision has major potential to reimagine and change the future of education and work, which might even usher in a new golden age of education.

What would the “Harvard” of a million students look like?

What would make higher education better? What will universities look like in 5, 10, or even 20 years? Imagine starting from scratch and reinventing higher education at a massive scale by creating an ecosystem and platform to offer world-class curated education to everyone on earth. What would this look like? First, it would require higher education to go against years of tradition and elitism and define enrollment success not how many they turn away but how many students they serve. This would improve equity and access across many life, school, and work dimensions. Higher education institutions are critical to creating fundamental positive forces toward this effort. This virtual university with 1 million student enrollment would be entirely online and serve from both the U.S. and around the globe from the home comfort of their computer or smartphone. Globally, millions of students have the aptitude and intelligence to perform in an academically rigorous university. This would create opportunities for many value-aligned learners, especially low-income students, to create educational opportunities that provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to live meaningful and economically stable lives while making a positive difference in the world. What if technologies could allow us to create educational programs customized to each student’s needs? What if we could provide education to students to study whenever, wherever, and whatever they desired? What if the economies of scale allowed us to radically lower the price of our educational offerings? We might discover opportunities for learners we previously excluded and find a wealth of talented individuals with valuable contributions to make students who just didn’t fit into the old model and paradigm.

How can we positively transform 1 million lives together?

Accredicity is a public benefit corporation passionate about reinventing higher education for today’s workforce. We provided employees credentials to be recognized by employers. By serving as the key to unlocking the link between employers and employees, Accredicity can positively influence the lives of millions of individuals and tens of thousands of companies who will benefit from a high-quality online education ecosystem to provide life-changing meaningful careers with social impact for everyone on earth. We believe that if you loved your career, it would have a meaningful impact on your life, but if societal attitudes about work would change globally, the results could be extremely meaningful for millions. It’s to make a meaningful impact in the life of our students that drives our purpose and inspires us to launch Accredicity.

Diversity, Inclusivity, and Bias

Changing Hiring to build a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

As learning is modernizing, traditional four-year degree requirements are now seen as an unnecessary barrier of rejection for employees of disadvantaged backgrounds by restricting them based on having a degree rather than having the skills and experience to succeed in doing the jobs. This is why degree requirements are being reconsidered for more skill-based hiring approaches. More than a third of all jobs still require a bachelor’s degree to qualify or even apply. Having this degree requirement in a job posting turns off many minorities and vice versa. However, this era is over. Degrees are losing their monopoly and are no longer the only path to a good life, a good job, or informed citizenship. Companies can now open these job opportunities by focusing on skills, not degrees. If we want to give everyone the chance to succeed in life, a higher education degree cannot be the only exclusive pathway to opportunity. Companies can’t keep hiring employees from the same list of top colleges and universities, which has not changed that much since the beginning of the last century because it only perpetuates a barrier to entry into higher education that only advantages incumbency and closes opportunities for women, Black, and Latin students reducing down the diversity of our country’s work talent pool more than to build it up. Getting a good job or advancing within the corporate world needs to be without any historical barrier that holds entire minorities behind for jobs they are otherwise qualified to perform. Businesses and organizations recognize the value of a diverse workforce and are under increasing pressure to think differently about their recruitment strategy. This has now created in the mainstream an openness to just hiring people who don’t have degrees and sets the stage for a fair and equitable future of education and work to be more skill-based. Employers that get better at recognizing skills will be better positioned to improve the diversity of their workforces relative to their degree-distracted competitors and unleash the full potential of their individuals and teams. As employers look for ways to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), employees want to see their organizations make a real difference in ensuring that more women, persons of color, LBGTQ+, and older employees receive opportunities to be promoted into positions of leadership. The moment is now for us to take meaningful action that speaks louder than word toward this new vision for the future.

Eliminating the Credentialism Bias with Skill-Based Hiring

Because of its qualitative nature, hiring and promoting employees is often a biased process that even the best-intended employer struggles to overcome. Skill-Based Hiring is far more objective. It sounds paradoxical, but skill-based credentials can eliminate the problem of “Credentialism.” In an ideal scenario, an employer should equally value two people with the same skill level. Unfortunately, this creeping credentialism bias places greater weight on the candidates who learned their skills in college vs. experiential learning. In addition, placing a premium on those who learned their skills at selective institutions relative to more inclusive ones. But in reality, talent is distributed far more equally than access to college degrees. This is why the degree is often criticized as a black box for most external people since employers rarely know the actual skills a graduate has earned while at school. Nevertheless, many employers are still using the degree to signal that candidates have crossed some intelligence threshold. This credentialism has evolved and now equates a high-school diploma to a college degree, an expensive shift that leaves many students behind. The bias is that they assume they have such skills but do not know what skills they have. Skill-Based Credentials would change all of this by clearly signaling to employees which skills a learner has or not. Translating past skills and knowledge into future work opportunities can be suitable for creating equity in the workplace since it gives a new lever to those who have been underserved by the existing system. It’s important that hiring managers need to look beyond certifications and degrees and factor in actual soft skills when evaluating candidates. Sadly, assumptions or unconscious bias can impact the workplace and executive decisions which keeps underrepresented groups from the same career opportunities as those groups with more privilege. This provides an architecture to reduce disparities in labor market outcomes and give employers better tools to understand the role of such credentialism bias in their hiring and promotion processes. Employers are already aware of this problem. The US Chamber of Commerce stated that 78% of employers believe they will need to change how they hire to reflect skills better. Focusing hiring and promotion processes on more objective and equitable criteria will reduce bias in labor markets. However, moving to skills-based hiring and training won’t instantly solve all of the biases, but it would dramatically level the playing field for everyone.

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