What if Everyone had Access to a College Degree?


October 27, 2015

On my way to work this morning I was listening to the radio. The President of the University of the People (UoPeople) was being interviewed. It was my first exposure to an amazingly innovative accredited university offering low cost or free college educations to people all over the world.
As a career development professional, I have helped both college students and adults find their way to fulfilling work and financial stability. I believe both are important. We all know that the playing field is not even. If you have money, you have access. If you don’t, you quickly lose hope.
Today I have a renewed faith in human ingenuity and integrity. UoPeople gives anyone over the age of 18 who has achieved a high school degree and can speak English, a golden door. This online dream machine is a degree producing institution that can lift anyone from obscurity to career fulfillment. Wow, that’s work knowing about.
By the way, I have absolutely no affiliation with the school. My entire professional life has been dedicated to helping people find a direction, get a good job and enjoy their work. So, when I heard about the school I was cautiously optimistic. After I read their mission, vision and values, reviewed some online reviews and read the student testimonials, I was convinced that this is a legitimate enterprise.
To my fellow career development professionals in colleges and universities all over the world, this is the solution for many qualified students who drop out of traditional programs. Perhaps they have to work to support their family, they make a mistake and end up in jail, they get ill or injured. Perhaps they are veterans of the wars currently raging on our planet. The list of life’s challenges and tragedies goes on and on.
I noticed that UoPeople focuses on Business Administration and Computer Science. These are two areas where the demand is high, world-wide. Both career fields are so broad that students can find ways to employ their unique strengths. The humanitarian “Facilitators” can run non-profit organizations. The “Innovators” can program software and design elegant solutions to complex problems. The “Organizers” can manage production and master organizational finance. And, finally, the “Liberators” can use both the computer science and the business savvy as entrepreneurs. The options are limitless.
If I was going to add another really big idea to UoPeople, I would invite guidance counselors in high schools, career counselors at the college level and coaches in every specialization to support UoPeople candidates and graduates. Recruiting agencies should give this pool of diverse, ambitious individuals a close look for quality career opportunities. Employers should create pathways and incentives for these students so their transition from college to employment is a smooth one.
We can all offer a leg up to people seeking the dignity of a fulfilling career with a solid future.

Helen Horyza, President, Elevate Inc. and author of Elevations, an online career assessment for students and adults found at www.elevationsonline.com She holds a Master of Science Degree in career development and is a Nationally Certified Career Counselor.