In the past ten years, physical outposts have sprung up across the United States, providing physical spaces for learning and interaction for students participating in online college courses. In Denver, there is a suite in an office building. In Austin, there is an airy lobby, similar to a co-working facility. In Philadelphia, there is room for modern high-rise buildings.

These mini campus centers call themselves “hybrid colleges” Set ambitious goals for yourself, Such as allowing people historically excluded from higher education to go to university.

Now, more than a dozen of these non-profit organizations are strengthening their connections and working to create Hybrid College Network.

“The network is very collaborative. They are proud of the model because it provides a great service to students,” said Lauren Trent, CEO of AdvanceEDU, Colorado, which was launched in 2020. Promote student success? ”

The Hybrid University Program is a symbiotic relationship between an online higher education institution and a non-profit organization that provides a location-based support system. Students pay tuition fees to the university and then share income with non-profit organizations that use these funds to pay for services that students receive in person, including counseling, career advice, and basic needs assistance, such as meals and childcare.

This website Hybrid College Network calls this model “more effective than community colleges, more efficient than 4-year universities, and more affordable than online universities”, on the grounds that the tuition fees of its member courses are low, and the student’s adherence rate is high. This concept aims to increase university enrollment rate and degree completion rate, especially for those who pursue part-time higher education——Groups with low graduation rates in history. This strategy is somewhat similar to the strategies that some online universities have tried themselves Plant your own hybrid campus location.

“The support we provide is designed to help students who find it difficult to manage various fields on their own to simplify and streamline the university experience,” Trent said. “Being able to enter and have a quiet study space, Wi-Fi, staff support, meals, on-site child care services-this is a game changer for many students.”

The model revolves around competency-based online degree pathways. Hudson Baird, executive director of the Austin non-profit organization PelotonU, said that most of the projects in the network are in cooperation with the American College of Southern New Hampshire University, although some projects are supported through Western Governors University and Brandman University. Students registered in other institutions.

Competence-based education, not exams and essays Assign student projects inspired by “real world” scenarios Trent said it was extracted directly from the work environment. For example, a business degree program may require students to assess the financial situation of the organization, consider whether to lease or purchase facilities, analyze how to invest in marketing resources and write all of this in a memo to a fictitious boss.

Trent says that one benefit of this approach is that it is “often extremely attractive and relevant to students.” But she added that the downside is that there are only a few competency-based pathways to choose from, which limits many students from obtaining degrees in business, communications, general education, and healthcare management. To expand the range of options, AdvanceEDU helps interested students obtain an associate’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University, and then transfer their credits to Colorado State University’s global campus to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Related research is underway Effectiveness of competency-based education degree programsSome already Criticized for lack of substantive teaching, But advocates believe that these courses make universities more flexible and affordable.

In fact, affordability is the top priority of the hybrid university model. Trent said that many programs link tuition to the Pell grants provided by the federal government to low-income students.

Just like in community colleges and four-year universities, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many hybrid college courses and services have moved online. But when students can gather in their hybrid university centers in person, leaders say they can experience the campus life that many students at more traditional institutions value.

“A form of friendship, even a romantic form,” Trent said. “They got a lot of community after meeting here.”

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