Austen Allred

Parents – It’s Time to Expand How We Talk to Our Kids About Education

September 14, 2019

The day after Labor Day is the traditional back-to-school moment for families all over the country, a time to reflect and set goals for the academic year ahead.

And as a father of two, this time of year has me thinking how as parents, we need to update the advice we give our children when it comes to the choices they have for their education and futures.

My daughter and I at the beach.

When I was growing up the message on this was clear: the path to professional and life success was a four-year traditional university degree. I tried it - but it wasn't the right option for me, and after a couple of semesters, I left.

As parents all over the country look to help their kids in the school year ahead, let's also remember to help them recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all path to higher education.

This means talking to them about options that go beyond a four years on campus experience. Trade schools, two-year colleges and new educational learning models like Bloom Institute of Technology (formerly known as Lambda School) need to play a much larger role in our family conversations.

BloomTech (which I co-founded) was designed specifically to provide another, more accessible and direct path to a successful future. It's one that reflects the needs of the current hiring market and doesn't require astronomical upfront tuition fees.

It's online (so accessible from anywhere); the curriculum and teaching format are live and interactive. Unlike the traditional lecture-and-listen model, students at BloomTech work alongside instructors and peers immersed in the material. The hands-on experience (over 1500 hours of coding) replicates the projects and team building experiences that they will find at their next jobs.

And to hold ourselves accountable, and de-risk education for students and their families, we build a business model which depends entirely on our ability to help them meet their goals.

At BloomTech, we invest in you. With our popular income share agreement, or ISA, you invest in yourself, too. When you pay for your BloomTech education with an ISA, you’ll start by paying for a fraction of your tuition up front. Once you graduate, we’ll help you land a well-paying job—and then you’ll pay for the rest of your tuition with a percentage of your income for a limited time. 

In other words, an ISA funds your tuition so you can pay back BloomTech later.

Here are some of the basics about ISAs at BloomTech.

  1. Know what you owe. No monthly interest. Unlike with a typical loan, the maximum amount you owe will never increase with an ISA doesn’t accrue monthly interest. In other words, what you owe never increases. Your total payment amount is capped at $40,000*, andmaximumso you won’t pay more than that amount . you may end up paying less. No monthly interest.
  1. It scales with you. Your goal is to get a great job; that’s our goal for you, too. Once you start earning at least an annualized $50,000** a year, you’ll pay us back with a percentage of your income each month. If your earned income falls below the minimum total amount, your payments will be deferred until your income reaches the minimum again.
  1. No lingering obligations. Your contract is finished once you complete the ISA payment schedule or reach the payment cap, whichever comes first. And if you aren’t making the minimum average monthly income, and have had deferred payments for a total of 48 months, then your ISA expires and you don’t owe anything else—even if you’ve paid nothing up to that point.

At BloomTech, we are committed to providing more people with a direct and lower-risk path to a rewarding tech job. That’s why we offer flexible options to pay your tuition—and launch your new career.

This makes our business goals and the student's goals from our program the same: mastery of the skills employers seek, and then getting connected to, landing, and thriving in a job based on those skills.

We provide our students with an educational program that emphasizes skills mastery, contextual learning, and hands-on experience; we provide a network and community that helps students get interviews, arrange for industry mentors, provide coaching and career support services that teach everything from resume writing and cross-cultural communication, to negotiating job offers and setting up a bank account.

Education has always been the path to economic mobility, but the growing cost of it and the disconnect between what is being taught and what employers are looking for has led to talent being wasted and underused.

Currently, people as young as 17 accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt to get an education, and at $1.6 trillion, student debt is the second-highest consumer debt category, behind only mortgage debt.

The traditional university experience is right for some, but it also comes with real risks that need to be better acknowledged and communicated to parents and students.

And while ultimately every child and person must find her own path, as parents the best we can do is know what's right for our kids and express risk involved in their choices, and support them in whatever they end up doing.

At BloomTech, we're building a future where education is accessible. I hope you'll talk to your children and families about attending.

Sincerely,

Austen Allred, CEO of BloomTech

Twitter: @Austen

Published September 4, 2019