Rize Education's Founders Explain How Living on Adrian College's Campus for 2 Years Inspired their Vision for the Future of Education

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Rize Education

Unsatisfied and unfulfilled with their time spent working on Wall Street, Rize Education founders Kevin Harrington and Connor McCarthy began to explore their deep interest in America's higher education system in 2018. After reading Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking's book on leveraging campus athletics to save small colleges through boosting enrollment, the two longtime friends and Harvard graduates reached out to Docking with their notes and reactions to his analysis. Impressed with their insight, Docking flew out to New York City for a lunch with them, setting the stage for an effective broad-scale solution to the rising tuitions and shrinking enrollments plaguing higher education.

Within a matter of weeks, Harrington and McCarthy resolved to move out to Adrian, Michigan, and incubate the company that they hoped could help improve upon the model of higher education. Leaving behind the comfort of Wall Street jobs and Manhattan apartments, they slept in student dorms, ate at campus cafeterias, and talked to hundreds of students, faculty, and administrators to learn the ins and outs of the system.

Docking, Harrington, and McCarthy came to an unprecedented solution that not only addresses students' concerns about high tuition, job security, and student debt but also gives thousands of higher education institutions around the nation the lifeline they need. They conceived of a system of helping colleges offer new high-growth college majors with the goal of giving students the skills and portfolio needed to land top jobs while simultaneously dramatically boosting enrollment through attracting a massive pool of previously uncatered-to individuals. After much consultation with Presidents and administrators throughout the country, the team built out over twenty new programs in high growth fields like Computer Science, Data Analytics, Digital Marketing, Supply Chain Management, and more. And by partnering with leading professors and corporations in each field, they ensured that each program used the most up-to-date distance education practices to deliver the most sought after skills in the job market.

The last remaining question was whether students would be interested in receiving this hybrid form of education, where they could attend a 4 year liberal arts college that offered them a fantastic experience while still learning the skills they needed to land a lucrative job after college. And the answer was decisive. Rize helped Adrian College launch 10 new majors, which drove an aggregate of 49 new enrollments to Adrian College. Not only did these programs drive over $3 million dollars of additional revenue to Adrian, but with average starting salaries of $60,000+ in each program, they also helped set students up for successful careers after college.

Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rize Education has since helped over 70 colleges throughout the United States start over 300 new programs, providing hundreds of thousands of students with new opportunities and helping to ensure the financial safety of institutions for years to come. Although buoyed by their early success, Rize's founders remain hungry to reduce tuition by over thirty percent in the coming years. In addition, they aim to equip every student in the nation with the skill set they need to thrive in the workforce and a student debt insurance solution that will make the path to top jobs risk-free.

This article was first published on January 12, 2022
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