Part 1 of 4

There is a story that most of us know. It’s the story of college and the American dream.  

As the story goes, U.S. colleges are engines of economic mobility and cornerstones of the American dream. To go to college, students have been told, is to get on a path to a good job and a better life. 

That story is increasingly hard to believe. It deserves scrutiny. In many cases, it is plainly false.

American colleges are now immensely expensive for many families and students, and they are troubled by low graduation rates and erratic employment outcomes.

Despite these shortcomings, America’s approximately 4000 colleges operates as a closed, protected sector — one that is free from new competitors, shielded from accountability, and heavily supported with public funding.  

Caught up in the status quo of U.S. colleges are America’s 19 million college students and their families.

U.S. colleges must improve – profoundly and quickly – and for that to happen, transformative, student-first public policy is needed. Specifically:

  • Clearing a Path for Nonprofit Startup Colleges.  We need new public policy that invites social entrepreneurs into the sector to start innovative nonprofit colleges that cost less, deliver more, and report openly on their outcomes.  We need new teams, new ideas, and new organizations in the college space.

The college sector will benefit enormously from clever nonprofit college startups that can seek out and share break-through new designs.

This is the (four-part) story we want to tell at College101. It’s a new story – a more complete, more honest, and more productive story – about the problems in our college system, how they arose, and what it will take to really fix them.   

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