Skill up now, pay later: one startup wants to change the paradigm of higher education

Higher education is facing many challenges, one of the most critical issue facing the future of higher education is the burden of college debt students have to carry after graduation. With tuition on the rise and the value of a bachelor's degree plummeting (only 18% of students who start a bachelor's degree graduate in 4 years), less and less students believe that a college education its worth the cost.

A San Francisco-based startup wants to reimagine college by offering a debt-free, one-year college alternative with “a world-class education that prepares students for the jobs of today and tomorrow.” MissionU is a program that charges no tuition upfront and will only receive payment from students once they have a job paying at least $50,000. Students will contribute 15% of their income for 3 years after the program ends. 

After founding Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit that has built 400+ schools across the world, Adam Braun, MissionU CEO & Co-Founder, decided to change the paradigm of higher education after witnessing his wife's struggle to pay back over $100,000 in student loans. “College debt is the only U.S. debt that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy--it's with you forever.” writes Braun in a letter. 

Unlike traditional college or online schools, MissionU is being designed to “skill up” students through an immersive, collaborative and accelerated program where students get to put what they’ve learned into practice by working on real company projects. 

MissionU's approach

MissionU's approach

While MissionU doesn’t have a traditional campus and most of the courses are taught online, students are required to live within 50 miles of the city where the program is based for occasional meetings. 

Moreover, MissionU believes a college's commitment shouldn't end at graduation. Students have a six week support program that helps them go through the interview process via training, guidance, and salary negotiation. 

The first MissionU cohort, beginning September 2017 in San Francisco, will focus on data analytics and business intelligence. According to Campus Technology, of 4,500 applicants, the 2017 class will have only 25 admitted students.  Applications for the January 2018 are now open.