Flex College — Approach and Goals

Colleges have been hit hard by the COVID lockdown, and some of them will not survive. Their product has become amazingly expensive. A forced migration to online learning gives them a less rewarding product. Americans love college, and they think they get good jobs because of college. and they have been willing to pay a lot for college. But, at some point, they will walk away.

We can save college. This article proposes an unbundled “flex” college that will increase rewards and reduce costs.

Our proposal, outlined here, is to use top online courses as a raw material. Students will gather to study in “pods” of about ten individuals. We can locate these pods on campuses or rewarding locations around the world. Then we add a well-equipped coach and teaching assistant to the group.

We are recruiting. We’re especially interested in college students headed for a gap year who want to build a startup, while testing and improving our pod structure. Please apply here.

Unbundling College

  1. Learn
  2. Get a degree
  3. GO to college. Get the campus experience. Grow, socialize, and network.

Learning can be simple and cheap. A lot of people learn on their own, from colleagues, from books, from practice. If they need more structure they can take a class online. However, high school and college aged students benefit a lot from the motivation, feedback, and focus of being in a group.

Getting a degree is more complicated, and more expensive. It often pays off with a better job. But, it is a risky investment that requires a multi-year commitment from the student, combined with brand building from the degree granting institution.

GOING to college is a lot more expensive. A college is a bundle that includes learning, a degree, and a campus experience. The campus includes learning-oriented features such as professors and lab equipment. It also includes social features (a bunch of students doing lots of fun student stuff) and lifestyle features such as athletics and arts.

An unbundled college will put these components together in a way that works better for students. Ideally students will learn. They will get a degree with significant career value. They will make friends for life and weave them into careers. They will have a fantastic experience, and they will get it at significantly less cost. And, every student will have a high probability of completing a degree and getting these benefits.

Our proposal is to separate the instruction and the degree from the campus and the college experience. We will provide the instruction and the degrees at global scale. We will franchise out the experience to amazing local entrepreneurs and campuses.

We’re not exactly sure how this will work. We’ll need a team and a lot of guidance to figure it out. But, we have a basic approach and goals.

The Flex College Approach

Online curriculum as the raw material

Residential Pods

This experience is mobile. Students can move between pods around the world. We’re opening the door for pod hosts ranging from traditional campuses equipped with labs and lawns, to international cities, to surf and ski camps.

Coaches

Student leaders and self governance

Individuals in pods will decide on health and safety policies for their own pod. With full buy-in from each member of the group, policies are much more likely to be effective than unrealistic policies which colleges are trying to enforce.

Goals

Quality and consistency

Save money

The cost of college has more than doubled since 1980 as a percentage of median income. This makes it less accessible. If we are merely as efficient as those old non-computerized boomers were in 1980, we should be able to deliver a great college experience at half of current costs. We can’t start with an existing college. It has too many expensive people, administrators, and departments. We have to start from zero and build a more efficient structure.

Increase the probability of completing a degree

I am not sure how students will use the flexibility in locations and formats. I am sure that more of them will finish their degrees.

Lifetime learning

Fun

Where does this project come from?

Join the team at Flex College

SaaS entrepreneur/engineer. Founder of MAXOS, Real World DeFi. Previously founded Assembla, PowerSteering Software, on team at SNL Financial.