Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Want Your Kids to Succeed? Don't Pay for Their Education

This is the title of a Forbes article written to parents earlier this year. A national study, cited by a Sociology professor at the University of California, has found that the more financial responsibility parents take off their kids' shoulders for their college degree, the less their kids tend to study and the more they tend to take it easy. While this concept may be counter-cultural to the advice most loving parents work hard to follow, Forbes is simply uncovering what we at Excellence In Learning have known for quite some time and have intentionally built into our Accelerate University program.

Traditional classroom learning, especially at the college level, tends to be passive rather than active. Because there are very few classes Accelerate University students sit through, most of the learning that takes place is very active learning. The option of getting attendance grades or hanging on to just enough information from passively sitting through a  lecture does not exist for the majority of an Accelerate University client's degree. Almost everything they learn is because they have...
  • gathered their resources,
  • read the information,
  • taken notes on it,
  • connected it to other pieces already learned,
  • quizzed themselves on it,
  • asked questions of experts to get a better understanding, and
  • demonstrated their own hard-earned college level understanding of the topic. 
There is nothing passive about this type of learning. If the student does not do it, it does not get done. This means that the knowledge a student possesses is his or her own.

Not only do AU clients accept academic responsibility for their learning, they often accept financial responsibility as well. Approximately two-thirds or more of the degrees pursued by our clients are earned through testing to demonstrate proficiency. These tests are taken and paid for one at a time. This allows young students--some as young as 15, 16, 17 years old--to actually pay for college themselves. Rather than having to come up with $15,000 per semester, our clients come up with about $100 per test every couple of weeks. This is completely affordable for students who are working just part time jobs, which means that Accelerate University clients regularly graduate college with no debt! The time and money they save leaves them free to explore powerful opportunities after graduation. They are free to travel, intern, or even start their own business for the three or four years their peers are still sitting passively in their college classes.

By the time a client graduates from college and the Accelerate University program, they have also been well trained, through real-life experience, to manage their time and communication effectively. The Accelerate University program staff is responsible for working with clients to train them to be independent, life-long learners. Students graduating from our program know how to learn anything they need to learn very quickly and effectively. They know how to find, take in and process needed information. Perhaps most importantly, they know when to ask questions from those who have the understanding they are seeking. As these clients are being trained in these skills, they are constantly faced with choices on how they will use their time. Accelerate University students are not tied to a classroom or semester schedule, which means they do have the ability to make the most of other opportunities that come up along the way. However, they also have to develop the discipline of sorting the value of each opportunity and thinking further down the road of how choices in the present will impact the long-range goals. Additionally, they have to learn how to communicate to adults in all positions for many different reasons. Clients learn to regularly and proactively communicate with their AU Guide, and their Guide coaches them on communicating with knowledgeable tutors, college professors, test center staff, curious friends and family, skeptical peers, current or potential employers, possible apprentices, etc.

Talk to any Accelerate University student, and you are likely to hear that the AU program takes them on a journey much bigger than the completion of a college degree. It is a journey into the adult world. And when they emerge, Accelerate University clients are much better prepared than their peers who have spent the past 5 to 6 years sitting passively in a classroom on their parents' dime.

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